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An 8-point plan for negotiating a salary increase

You’ve been working super-hard. You’ve put in the hours and delivered results. And life’s just getting more and more expensive. It’s time for a pay raise. But how do you convince your boss you deserve the increase you need? Here is your 8-point plan for doing just that. 

20 February 2019
3 minute read
women analyzing document

1. Set a goal

You must have an idea of how much more you’d like to earn, or how much more you believe you’re worth. That number is a good starting point. Write it down to keep you focused.
It’s also important to consider whether the raise you are requesting will move you up a salary bracket. Check out the SARS Income Tax Tables so that you know whether the raise you are requesting will deliver the increase you want, or whether you will end up giving a big chunk of it to the tax man.

2. Do the research

Now it’s time to get realistic. Do some research on sites like PayScale to work out whether the job you’re doing is worth what you think it is. You can also search for industry specific-salary surveys, or browse job ads for similar positions. Think about the perks that your current position offers and whether they have a monetary (or other) value – for instance, can you work from home sometimes and save on transport money?

3. List the reasons you deserve the raise

“I need a raise,” isn’t a good enough reason. Write down all the things that you have done that show that you are committed, hardworking and deserving of a greater salary. Be specific about what you did and what was achieved with actual supporting examples.
Remember to stick to professional reasons rather than personal ones.


4. Adjust your goal

Once you’ve done your research into fair market rates, and listed the reasons why, consider carefully whether you would give yourself a raise based on the information in front of you. If you are asking for an increase that would put your salary at higher than the industry standard, or if you can’t reasonably justify why you deserve it, then perhaps you should lower your request.
Or you might find that you are underpaid and overworked and could even adjust your goal income upwards.

5. Make an appointment with your line manager or HR manager

Don’t spring a raise negotiation on your boss or HR representative. Ask for a meeting, explaining what you would like to discuss. If the relevant person is unavailable or reluctant, keep politely requesting the appointment, or requesting an explanation as to why it’s not possible to have it at this time.

6. Practise to make perfect

Go through your notes and presentation so that you are fully prepared for your raise negotiation. You can take your notes in with you to make sure you don’t miss any points, but you should still be able to talk about them confidently. Practise in front of the mirror or ask a family member to hear you out and give you pointers.
And remember, make the comments about YOU, not about your employer. The argument that you have worked hard is much more powerful than telling your employer that they are not paying you enough.

7. Be prepared on the day

On the day of your raise negotiation, dress professionally. Don’t go overboard, but present yourself well. Be ready on time – if the appointment is far from where you work, arrive early. Do everything you can to avoid being stressed or flustered. Have a sip of water. Run through your notes one last time. Have a sip of water. And go in there intending to impress.

8. If the answer is no, get a timeframe for the next discussion

Despite your best efforts, you may not be successful the first time you ask for a raise. There may be internal reasons for not giving salary increases, or you may hear concerns about your specific performance. Whatever the reason, request a timeframe for the next discussion. If there are concerns about your performance, do your best to overcome the issues and change your boss’s perception of you in the interim.

Good luck and go get ‘em!

Negotiating a salary increase takes a bit of bravery and a lot of preparation. Hopefully you got the outcome you were hoping for, but if you didn’t, you learnt some valuable lessons that will stand you in good stead when it’s time for the next negotiation.

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