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The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Asking for a Pay Rise

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Want to know how to ask for a raise? We share the things you shouldn’t do when having that all important conversation with your boss.


Do you love your job but feel that you aren’t making enough money? You’ve no doubt been thinking that a pay rise will be the answer to your problem but just simply do not know how to ask for a raise.

For most this can be a stressful and daunting thought; worrying what you should say, when to do it, and with the constant fear that you will stuff it up and get on bad terms with your boss. If you are not careful about what you say, you risk embarrassing yourself, showing flaws instead of strengths and negatively dragging colleagues into the conversation.

Aside from the annual salary increases and bonus payments, employers don’t usually like to just offer out extra money to people unless there is a reason. How to ask for a raise takes planning and preparation, and with the right attitude you can show your employer that you are worthy.

Check out the five most common mistakes that people make when asking for a pay rise so that you can avoid them and have a better chance of your boss saying yes.

1. They don’t ask


You’ve no doubt heard the expression ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, and this is completely true when it comes to asking for a raise. Quite often, just putting the idea into your employer’s head will get you one as your boss most probably already knows that you’re worth it and just needs that little push to make it happen.

Getting the courage to ask is half of the battle, so if you can just get yourself together to ask, you are half way there. Too many people freak out and find an excuse not to ask which doesn’t get them anywhere. If you want a pay rise, then get over your fears and just ask for one!

2. They think it’s about themselves

 While you may think that you are the most important part of the equation when it comes to asking for a pay rise, you are not. This is about your boss, your company, and how you fit into their equation.

Before your boss will even entertain the idea of increasing your salary, they need to know how you benefit the company and what you are doing to increase their profit, improve relationships with customers or make the company run like a well-oiled machine. Now if you are asking a boss that you work with closely on a day to day basis for a raise, then they will probably already have a pretty good idea of what an asset you are. But, if your boss has no idea what you do and your achievements, then you are going to need to show them.

Simply telling a boss that you work hard is never going to cut it. You need to give them facts – numbers, sales, customers, solutions – show them that you are of value to the business and will continue to be for a long time to come.

The more value you can show, the more likely there will be a higher figure on that next pay cheque.

3. They use uncertain language or lack confidence in their voice

You know the feeling when a friend or family member is trying to ask you for something and they stumble around with their words sounding like a lost child, taking forever to spit it out?

Frustrating isn’t it?

Put yourself in your employer’s shoes. They are busy and probably have only a few minutes before their next meeting or phone call, so they don’t have all day to be sitting around waiting for you to state your case. If you’re looking for the best way to go about how to ask for a raise, then being clear with your language and oozing confidence is the right thing to do.

“Oh hi…. Um… I was just wondering… um… if maybe… perhaps… I would be able to have a ….. a pay rise this year?”


“These are the great things I’ve been doing in my role this year (fill in accomplishments here), and based on this I feel like I’m adding substantial value to the company and am worth a X% pay rise.”

Which one of these sounds better? The second one, right?

This person is clear with their request, doesn’t muck around with their words and sounds confident. They show why they are an asset to the company before asking for a raise. This is a great tactic as it reminds your boss of all the great things you’ve been doing in the company that they may not always be aware of or remember.

4. They don’t open a discussion

Since a lot of our communication these days is done over email or messaging apps, you may think that sending your boss a quick message will be much easier than meeting face to face.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

While it may be extremely tempting to send a message to avoid an uncomfortable conversation, especially if you are not the most confident of people, this is a big no-no when it comes to how to ask for a raise.

By sending an email or a message, you make it much easier for your boss to say no, or you may not even get a response at all since they are busy people and possibly overlook emails. You also lose all your negotiation power and have no chance to state your case and explain why you deserve a raise.

Having an in-person meeting allows you to have a proper discussion and since your boss is right in front of you, they will have to give you a decision right there and then, or at least let you know that they will think about it and come back to you.

5. They demand or threaten

Remember that respect is earned, not given. Going into your boss’s office, all guns blazing and demanding a pay rise is not going to get you anywhere and will certainly not gain you any respect. Your boss should feel like they are in control when you have a conversation asking for a pay rise, because if they feel threatened, it is more than likely not going to happen.

You can forget all about ultimatums too; telling your boss you’ll leave if they don’t give you a raise is never going to work.

 And will most likely put you out of contention for future pay rises or promotions.

The right action to take as soon as you step into a meeting with your boss is to talk gently and firmly about the value that you bring to the company and how much you would love to stay and build your professional career. A positive and assertive attitude will do wonders.

So, what are you waiting for?

 The worst thing that can happen when asking for a pay rise is that your boss says no. If this does happen, you are no worse off than you were before, so you’ve got nothing to lose. If they can’t promise you a raise right now, at least you are opening up lines of communication and you may learn what the path looks like in terms of a pay rise in the future.

Also don’t forget that the conversation could lead to discussions about more responsibility in your role or even a promotion down the line, which of course is positive news and will likely guarantee a pay rise.

If your boss flat out refuses your request for a pay rise and doesn’t sound like they are committed to furthering your professional development within the company, then maybe it is time to start looking elsewhere. This decision is obviously completely up to you and how you feel within the company, but without going through the process of asking for raise, you will never know what the reaction is going to be.

So, what are you waiting for?

Good luck!


What do you think? We’d love to hear your pay rise stories in the comments below.



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