How to successfully ask for a pay rise or non-financial rewards

A best-practice guide for success in one of the most terrifying work-related conversations: asking for a pay rise.

Are you a young professional worried that you don’t have enough accomplishments to justify a pay rise? Or are you perhaps further along in your career and seeking non-financial rewards for a job well done?

There may be anxiety and stigma associated with it, but make no mistake: asking for a pay rise or more benefits is your right as a professional.

Asking for a pay rise requires performing a self-evaluation of the ways you’ve benefitted your team and company, researching the state of your industry, and practicing how to have an open conversation with your employer.

Here are some things you can do to ensure the conversation is successful. 

Wednesday 30th March

Jamil Luketic

Self-evaluate, and don’t underestimate yourself

Self-evaluation isn’t just a tool used to evaluate your technical skills. Employers now put a greater emphasis on soft skills, looking for professionals with great critical thinking and problem-solving skills, along with the ability to communicate and deal effectively with teammates and clients. Don’t underestimate your ability to communicate with a range of stakeholders – it’s a critical skill!

If it’s your first year on the job, don’t panic. Self-evaluation can involve looking back: did you ace the training at the start of your role? What about that project you collaborated on, or those series of tasks that you completed with no supervision?

For people with more experience, it’s not enough to just list the work you did. You must know and highlight your worth. Identify how you added value to the business through the projects you were a part of. List instances where you rose to trounce a challenge; showcase how you boosted the team you are a part of; explain how you are worth it.

Your education matters as well. A practical, industry-led degree from RMIT University can arm you with the skills and experience your industry needs most, so don’t forget to take that into account.

Do your research into market trends

Once you know your worth as a professional, it’s time to harness the power of the internet. Look at what people in the same experience bracket as you are earning, and what benefits they’re receiving.

Use these market rates to inform a salary range that you'll present to your manager. For those not after a salary bump, this is where you shortlist the non-financial rewards you are after: additional annual leave, flexible hours or even specialist training and development programs.

Another way to conduct research is by leveraging the graduate services offered by RMIT. One-on-one career consultations are available to all alumni and are particularly useful if you are struggling with setting career goals or finding out about industry-specific trends.

Build your case with an open conversation 

Once you have evaluated your skills, collected the relevant market trends and realised you’re absolutely worthy of a raise, it’s time to build a compelling argument in your favour.

It helps to preface your discussion with what you enjoy about your role and the company. This is a great way to weave in how you channelled that excitement into tangible accomplishments that benefited the company. For some roles, this can be bolstered with numbers; for others, you can harness relevant data from the KPIs you exceeded.

Framing the discussion around industry standards for salaries and benefits can also help to reinforce your case to your employer. Remember, they are looking for solid evidence that demonstrates that you have brought value to the business and the people who work there.

Make the most of post-meeting negotiations 

Remember the salary range and shortlist of benefits you defined earlier? It helps you understand how much you can negotiate and at what point you should conclude the conversation.

It may be that your organisation will not be able to meet all your requests. Be mentally prepared for that outcome. Consider a polite email of understanding to your manager, but simultaneously negotiate for another meeting on this subject after a few months – remember, this is your right.

In the worst-case scenario, you may find yourself shut down at every avenue. Luckily, you amassed a wealth of information on your professional achievements, which you can take to RMIT’s career consultation service to help you build a better résumé and figure out what’s next for your career.

Story: Hassaan Ahmed

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.