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How to ask for a raise

12 August 2014
3 minute read


According to a 2013 Salary Trends survey by ECA International, South African salaries are expected to increase by an average of 7% in 2014. However, an increase of 7% would barely cover your increased cost of living when you take into account that inflation is now 6.6%. So how do you go about asking for a raise and getting the increase you want? Read on for all the answers you need.

TimingTiming can be everything. Some companies may award annual raises only while others may consider performance-related raises. Your timing is crucial in either case. If your company works on performance-related raises, then you should raise the subject of a raise a few months before the appraisal and then motivate for it at your appraisal. This allows your boss time to think about the fact that you want a raise and increases your chances of being awarded an increase at your appraisal rather than having to wait for your next appraisal. Don’t be shy to blow your own horn. Point out any new responsibilities you have taken on, recent projects you successfully completed or skills you have acquired and use these points to justify your request.

If your company awards annual raises, you should find out when the company budget for the year ahead will be finalised and ensure that you approach your boss for a raise beforehand so that this is taken into account when he or she draws up the employee remuneration budget.

ResearchDon’t thumbsuck a figure that you would like to be paid. Take the time to carry out research and find out what your market value is. You can do this by talking to recruiters in your industry and checking job listings for advertised salaries related to similar positions. Websites such as provide an annual salary review based on data drawn from 25 000 job adverts a month while allows you to compare what you currently earn in line with others in your industry.

Talk numbersWhether you ask for a specific rand amount or a percentage increase, don’t be unreasonable. A typical salary increase ranges between 5 to 10% a year while performance-related increases usually range between 1 and 5%. Some companies award only annual salary increases while other companies will offer an across-the-board salary increase as well as performance-related increases. Don’t be embarrassed to name a figure but don’t be unrealistic either. Another approach is to simply motivate why you think you should receive a salary increase and leave it to your boss to put forward a number. The salary increase you are offered may very well be higher than the one you would have asked for!

What not to say

  • “I did what I was supposed to” – that’s what you are already getting paid for. If you want a raise, you need to show that you went above and beyond your job description.
  • “Someone told me that she earns so much and I think I should earn the same or more.” Water-cooler gossip is just that. You shouldn’t be discussing your salary with fellow employees and this is the worst justification for a salary increase.
  • “I deserve it”. Why do you deserve it? Pretend that instead of a discussion about a salary increase, this is actually a second job interview. You need to sell yourself to your boss all over again so that he or she walks out with the confidence that you are an asset to the company and deserving of an increase.
  • “I need more money”. How you manage your finances is not your employer’s problem. If you are having trouble making ends meet, you should be reviewing your budget, not asking for a salary increase. This will also raise eyebrows if you work in the financial services industry. If you can’t manage your own money, then how can you be trusted to manage the money of others?
  • “There’s another job offer”. Never threaten to leave unless you have a solid job offer waiting for you. Also remember that if you do use this strategy, it leaves you at a disadvantage. Your employer is not going to forget that you were ready to leave for “greener pastures” and this can hamper rather than improve your progress at your company.

Final wordBefore you approach your boss, think carefully about what you are going to say and how you want to say it. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend or family member. No one else is going to speak up for you at work, so make sure you do it yourself. If your request is turned down, tactfully ask your boss when your request can be reconsidered and what you can do in the interim to ensure a future salary increase.

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