Dos and don'ts of asking for a pay rise from a boss who's been asked hundreds of times.

Everything’s great at work – you find your role fulfilling, you like your coworkers and even your boss, but there’s just one problem… you need a pay rise.

While approaching this subject with your manager can be tricky, it’s also very worth it.

To find out the best way to go about it, Mamamia spoke to Inabox Group chief financial officer Deb Zimmer.

Listen: Sallyanne Atkinson shares career advice on I Don’t Know How She Does It. Post continues…

The Sydney woman has been a boss since 1999 and during this time has had the ‘pay rise’ conversation hundreds of times.

She’s seen it all, and has kindly shared her dos and don’ts to ensure you have the best chance of getting the answer you want.

Do make sure you’ve done your research.

An important first step is knowing exactly what salary increase you are going to ask for. Zimmer says salary surveys online can give an indication of what people in your industry and role are paid, but they can be quite broad.

To drill that number down, she recommends getting in touch with a recruiter. They’ll be far more likely to be able to give to a more accurate number to ask for.

“Ask them, Who have you recently placed in roles and, if they’re similar to mine, what you paid them,” Zimmer said.

Deb Zimmer and her children. (Image supplied.)

Do make sure you're at your best.

"It's much easier to ask for a pay rise on the back of a good performance," Zimmer says.


She says persuading your employer you're a good worker is naturally a factor, but if they've acknowledged it themselves or you've just proved it recently, then you're on the front foot.

Do pick your moment.

"There are good things to ask and bad times to ask," Zimmer says.

Clearly, when your boss is in a bad mood is a bad time, but it's also not ideal to ask when you know the company has just taken a hit or failed to meet targets.

Do wait for the annual review.

In fact, the best time to ask for a pay rise is during your annual review.

"Unless you've got a new qualification that means you can do more work or should be paid better then try to fit into with what the company do," Zimmer advises.

"There's nothing worse than having to do all the paperwork twice a year for the same employee."

Apart from reducing the "hassle factor", saving your request until this time means the company are more likely to be able to figure a cost increase into their budget.

Telling your employer the reason you're asking for the pay rise can be helpful. (Image via iStock.)

Do share your circumstances.

Is what's prompting your push for a pay rise the house deposit you're saving for? Tell your employer. Zimmer says providing an emotional reason for employers to connect to can be compelling.

"Not that I want my employees to emotionally blackmail me, but I would definitely respond to someone saying the reason is I'm saving up for a house," Zimmer says.

She tells Mamamia providing the reason can also help your employer work out other ways to assist you if any are available. However, just make sure your reason for wanting the pay rise is accompanied by an equally compelling reason why you deserve it.

Do be prepared with a counter-argument.

If your manager says no, get them to articulate exactly why so your can come back with a response.

Zimmer says a common reason an employer might say no is if the company is going through a rough time financially.


She advises that instead of taking no for an answer, ask them to commit to increasing your salary if the company's performance has improved, say in three months time.

She says an employer also might find it hard to make up a significant pay gap in one year and suggesting they could do it over two years is a good way to go. So they could take your salary from $60K to $67 this year and up to $70K the year after. However, doing this over any longer period isn't wise.

Do promise to keep your salary confidential.

Zimmer says your employer may be concerned that your pay rise could result in them shelling out extra cash for your coworkers. Making it clear to them that you'll keep the increase hush-hush is the best thing you can do to ease their concerns.

Do consider your circumstances.

Zimmer recommends deciding to go in what you're prepared to take and whether you're prepared to walk away from your job if you don't get the outcome you want.

"You have to make up your mind. What do you like about the company and are there other things things that your company does for you?"

She also advises keeping in mind that smaller companies are unlikely to be able to match the pay of much larger ones.

Deb Zimmer from Inabox Group has had this conversation many times. (Image supplied.)

Do offer value for money.

Zimmer suggests another argument to achieve a larger pay rise is to offer to do something the company is currently paying a contractor for.

"If you think it's a massive increase and you're busy but you think there's something else you can take on, you could put it to your employer that they could make a saving."


Don't pussy-foot around.

Zimmer shared that once, soon after a promotion, she noticed another person in her team who was doing the same work was being paid more than her.

"I went to my boss and said 'I've got your new job offer and I want to talk to you about it because I'm not happy with the salary'."

She said being as upfront as that is the best way to start the conversation. Flag that you want to talk about your pay, then when you're having the conversation start by stating how much you want and the reasons for it.

Don't demand a pay rise without a reason.

Zimmer says being unprepared and not having a basis for the pay rise, for example, that people in your industry are getting paid more, is unlikely to work.

"My aim as an employer is to do the right thing by my employee and actually pay them for what they're going to do, not overpay them, but actually pay what you think they're worth."

Give your employer as many reasons to say yes as possible. (Image via iStock.)

Don't over inflate your asking salary.

Zimmer says asking for an over-inflated amount and expecting to haggle is not a recommended approach.

So, if you want $70,000, ask for $70,000, not $80,000. Zimmer she respects employees to go in with an honest approach and are not trying to play games.

"Don't discredit your brand."

Don't be greedy.

If you just asked for a new work phone, a new laptop and a closer car space, a request for a pay rise on top of it isn't going to be well-received.

"Pick your battles. Go for the one's that are important."

And above all else... don't be afraid to go for it!

Did you negotiate a pay rise? What tactic worked best for you?