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Andrew Arkley|October 15, 2019

How To Ask For A Pay Rise: A Comprehensive Guide

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Wondering how to ask for a pay rise?

Money can be an awkward topic for us Brits, with many of us quite happy to brush financial matters under the carpet. 

But what if you work hard, meet all your objectives and still your salary doesn’t match your importance to your company? 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone – Glassdoor found that of people who quit their job in 2018, 45% of them stated salary as the issue.  

Luckily for you, the UK average pay rise is at an 11-year high, with many industries receiving a salary increase yearly. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should take the process of asking for a pay rise lightly.

Give yourself the best chance by using our comprehensive guide on how to ask for a raise below. 

Part 1: Am I suitable for a pay rise?

Am I being underpaid?

Here at PurpleCV, we know that workers in a lot of industries feel underpaid, but it’s important to know a few things before planning how to ask for a pay rise.

· Use a salary checker: Here you can compare your own salary to the market pay rates.

Be careful though as similar sounding jobs can vary massively in experience/salary. 

· Skills shortage: Do you work in an industry where the UK has a skills shortage?

A lack of suitable candidates in your field may suggest you’re suitable for a pay rise.

· Use a job search tool: Here you can find out how much you could earn with your skill set/experience. 

Pay rise law: what am I entitled to? 

Unfortunately, here in the UK there is currently no law that would entitle workers to a yearly salary increase – leaving the power (usually) in the hands of employers. 

However, some companies choose to implement a yearly salary review or regular performance reviews in order to recognise the efforts and achievements of its workforce. 

Robert Half found that employees working in finance or accounting are most likely to receive a pay increase during their salary review, with 36% of employees requests for a pay raise being successful.

Another scenario that affects how often you receive a salary increase, is whether you work in the public or private sector: 

· Public sector pay rises usually occur through union deals, or management agreeing to a pay rise. 

· Private sector pay rises are usually more performance based – with the basic pay rise figure expected at 2.5% in 2019.  

If you’re currently being paid the national minimum wage, it’s important to check its current rate on the UK Government Website

As the minimum wage rate differs between industries, you could be owed money if your wage has not increased with the current rate. 

Part 2: How to ask for a pay rise successfully

Constructing your argument

One of the most important aspects of asking for a pay rise is being able to sell yourself – you’ve worked hard and now it’s time to prove it! 

Here’s your opportunity to demonstrate everything you’ve achieved in your time at the company and all the skills you possess. 


When asking for a pay rise, you should clearly and effectively show your manager all you’ve achieved and why you deserve a salary increase. 

If you’ve completed certain training or have a specific qualification, be sure to mention it and remind your boss of your specialism. 

You should also list off specific milestones, such as ‘by me implementing X, we were able to increase Y by Z’ in order to show you deserve a pay rise.


Demonstrating to your employer several times you’ve used a certain skill set is vital when planning how to ask for a raise. 

Being able to recall times where you’ve shown leadership or good organisation can display to your employer that you’ve been performing above your paygrade. 


Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your own market value or your importance to the company – but don’t overdo it.

With some studies suggesting the average cost of employee turnover  is around £11,000 per person, your boss knows that good staff are expensive to replace.

If you can show this politely and effectively, your employer will be more likely to accept your request when you’re asking for a pay rise. 

When is the best time to ask for a pay rise?

There are several contrasting theories on the best time to ask for a pay rise, but ultimately it comes down to your performance and the state of the business.

Forbes suggest that these three factors affect how likely your request for a pay raise is to be granted: 

  • Higher workload. Such as when another member of staff leaves and you take on their workload in addition to your own.
  • Success story. A good time can be when you’ve just successfully finished a major project and you’re about to take on a new one.
  • Annual review. Three months before your annual review is an appropriate time to spark the conversation. 

When is the worst time to ask for a pay rise?

When you’re planning how to ask for a pay rise, it’s important to make sure you choose the right moment or your request might not be appreciated. 

Some of these wrong moments include:

· If your firm is currently performing bad financially or has lost a big client.

· Busy periods when your boss will have no time for these requests.

· When your company has frozen their recruitment or pay. 

If you assess the mood of the office as well as the health of the business, you’re much more likely to be successful. 

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How to negotiate a pay rise

Conducting yourself properly

You’ve worked hard for this meeting, so you should treat it with the respect it deserves. Dress smartly to show you’re serious and have aspiration.

We all know situations such as asking for a pay rise can be very stressful. In many ways, it’s not too dissimilar from having to control your nerves in an interview.  

Therefore, it’s vital you try your best to control these nerves when going into your salary negotiation. Keep strong eye contact and resist fidgeting. 

By acting in this manner, you come across as confident and sure about the things you’re saying. Your employer will buy into this and is then more likely to offer a salary review.  

Making your points

Now that you know how to ask for a pay rise, the next step is presenting your argument to your boss effectively. 

Here’s your opportunity to present your case that your achievements, skills and value should be rewarded with a pay rise. 

It’s also a good idea to inform your employer of the current average salary for someone in your position, suggesting a salary increase would put you on a level playing field. 

Make sure your salary request is realistic (within the average salary range for similar roles), but account for the fact that your boss will most likely attempt to negotiate it down.

You could also check job boards for vacancies in rival companies, with similar job titles and a similar job description to yours, to see whether your salary is on par.

CNN suggest a 10% increase is a good pay rise request in the U.S. – however adjust this to your own situation.

If things aren’t going your way, stand up for yourself but retain your composure.

Don’t let your emotions result in making threats you’re not willing to see through, bearing in mind you should avoid resigning on the spot to try to provoke action from your employer.

You may regret this once you’ve left the heat of the moment, even if you know you definitely deserve a raise.

After your meeting – whether good or bad – send an email to your employer thanking them for their time and the possibility to discuss your salary increase. 

Writing a pay rise letter

If you want to know how to ask for a pay rise but feel like you can’t do so face-to-face, a pay rise letter or email offer you a chance to request a salary review.

Similarly to in person, a pay rise letter should still include a compelling argument of why your employer should grant this request. 

But it should also include your job title, current salary and how long you’ve been at the company as well as being addressed to your boss (or human resources, depending on your company).

how to ask for a pay rise

Part 3: What to do if my pay rise request is rejected

Don’t feel too disheartened if your employer rejects your pay rise request. There are several other ways you can gain recognition for your performance.

If your employer does not currently feel you’re deserving of a pay rise, ask if there are any objectives they would like you to meet to facilitate this. 

Or use this setback as motivation to achieve a promotion and the salary increase that would come with it.

If the company says that their budget would not allow for a pay rise at this current time, a good technique is to try and negotiate perks or benefits instead.


There are forms of recognition other than money. Examples include: 

· Additional holiday, flexible hours or working from home

· A bigger office

· Free meals

· Additional training


You may also have the opportunity to negotiate benefits that could be just as rewarding. Some examples are: 

· Company car

· Pensions 

· Stock options

· Bonuses

Pay rise letter template

We’ve created a pay rise letter template for you to use if you’re thinking of asking for a raise via letter:

How to ask for a pay rise – conclusion

Now you know how to ask for a pay rise, it may be time to change jobs if your company are still unwilling to improve your contract.

For a professional CV writing service, contact us at purplecv.co.uk

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