How NOT to ask for a pay rise

By Las Rodrigo, Head of Recruitment – Links International Macau

Asking for a pay rise is never easy. In fact, it’s in our human nature to be almost embarrassed to ask for an increase in salary, even if we are doing well in our respective job positions and therefore deserve a pay rise. Every company or organisation is different, however, and so is the boss or line manager whom you are asking.Each situation needs a carefully thought out approach. You can have all the evidence you need to present your case, but if you start with the wrong approach then you can effectively:

  1. Blow your chances of getting a raise
  2. Look silly and somewhat unprofessional
  3. Put doubt into your boss’ mind about you and whether you will stay at the company or look to move elsewhere.

Salary is the driving factor in everything that we do. Let’s be honest: it’s the reason we get up and go to work, so that we can have a sense of fulfilment in our roles and then do the things we like to do outside of work, at the same time as honouring our respective financial commitments. Yet, as time goes on and you continually do a good job, you inevitably want to see your income grow; we all do!

In my opinion, however, here are the top 5 things (and I know there are many more) that you should NEVER say when asking for a pay rise:

1. “It’s never a good time to ask but….’

Timing is everything. If your company is doing well and more importantly YOU are doing well and can back it up, then by all means ask. But if the company is struggling and maybe redundancies are happening across the group, then you don’t want to come across as merciless. Articulate your case and propose a salary review at the end of the next quarter if you continue to perform yet the business doesn’t. You are an asset and your company will recognise that. If, however, you aren’t doing well, it’s advisable to keep quiet and get your own performance on track first.

2. “I need an increase due to personal issues.”

You have just bought a new house; you’ve just got or are getting married; maybe you’re even starting a family. These are all signs that you are moving forward in your life – fantastic! Obviously you feel that this takes priority (and it probably should). However, don’t let this flow over into your professional life. Your boss probably knows all of this and is maybe even somewhat sympathetic to your cause, BUT he also has a business to manage, as do you. Keep it professional, work hard and again document or highlight the reasons you deserve a pay rise that are related to work.

3. “I just found out ‘x’ is earning this amount.”

So what? There is probably a reason your colleague is earning that. Maybe they negotiated a better deal when they joined, or have more qualifications than you, or even more relevant work experience. Either way, it’s not really any of your concern. Yes, it may sting your pride a little, but the chances are you are getting paid what you are worth and if your company or boss is genuinely out to invest in you, then they will realise this and do something about it.

4. “I have done everything I was supposed to do in my role.”

That’s great; you have done your job. What you are supposed to do and what you are getting paid to do. However, in order to get an increase in your salary, you need to justify why. What have you done that is EXTRA, above and beyond? It may not even be financially related (in most cases it is) but what are you doing that is particularly notable? Examples could be mentoring an individual, raising your profile in the business community or attracting new clients for the future, for example. Again, it’s about more than just basics.

5. “If I don’t get a raise, maybe it’s time for me to move on.”

This can be interpreted as a threat and, if so, your company or boss already knows that you want to leave. Statistically, the primary reasons for a move are never really financially motivated. A decision to leave a company generally has more to do with your relationship with your boss, or not seeing the progression you feel you deserve. If you bring this up, be prepared to follow through with it if you don’t get the increase you are looking for.

As specialists in recruitment in Asia, Links International is in the best place to offer career advice to help you reach your potential. If you require any further advice on preparation and HOW you should ask for that all-important pay rise, please do not hesitate to get in touch.