Learning how to ask for a pay rise gives you a critical professional skill that you’ll use throughout your career. According to recruitment specialists Hays, 88 per cent of employers are ready to give them. To guide the conversation towards success and ease some of your nerves, we’ve gathered insider advice on getting the pay rise you deserve.

Australia’s current economic landscape

As a rule, conversations about pay should be focused on your skills and contributions as an employee. However, it doesn’t hurt to know how the economic standing of Australia might have an impact.

The Wage Price Index (WPI) measures changes in wages and salaries. Changes in work hours or quality do not impact the index, so it exists solely to track the price of labour.

According to the ABS, the seasonally adjusted WPI for the June quarter of 2022 increased by 0.7 per cent. WPI had a total increase of 2.6 per cent over the year. Among the industries with the highest salary increases were construction and real estate.

Although the wage increase sounds promising, the news isn’t so positive when you compare it to the Cost Price Index (CPI).

The ABS reported that CPI increased by 1.8 per cent this quarter and 7.3 per cent in the past year alone. If your salary doesn’t adjust with inflation, you’ll find it quickly eating into your pay.

This economic uncertainty and increased living expenses have changed how most of us view our household budgets. So it’s no surprise that ‘how to ask for a pay rise’ has become a trending search on Google.

Starting the conversation

So, how often should you get a pay rise? Australian employers differ in their stance.

Some schedule an annual salary review with staff to discuss wages. Others wait for performance reviews. For those working at a company without an HR representative, it’s common for the onus to fall on the employee to start the conversation.

Given that different working environments will present different windows of opportunity, learning how to ask for a pay rise is one of the best professional skills you can have.

How to ask for a pay rise: The dos and don’ts

Kathryn Macmillan is the founder and CEO of CIRCLE Recruitment & HR. As someone with decades of experience in human resources and recruitment, she’s coached people on effective workplace communication, including requests for salary increases.

Kathryn shared with us some of her best advice on asking for a pay rise, including the dos and don’ts that can impact your chances of success.

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

Pay rises are usually given around the time of your anniversary of employment or annual review. If it’s been over a year since your last pay review, or if you have taken on a more senior role or extra responsibilities, check in with your manager to ensure your pay reflects your efforts.

Choosing the right time for this conversation is also vital. Kathryn recommends asking your boss to meet with you for 10 minutes to have a private conversation. Find a time when they are more relaxed and less likely to be under pressure. In most workplaces, mornings are ideal.

How much more should you ask for?

Kathryn recommends flexibility when talking numbers. ‘Instead of pigeonholing yourself into a specific amount, set up the case for why you want an increase and the factors that justify it.’ She also recommends considering the relationship with your employer before assessing how direct to be.

What should you mention?

When assessing examples of how to ask for a pay rise, there are a few key points that should always be mentioned:

  • What you bring to the table and the positive contributions you have made to the company
  • Any upskilling or training you’ve completed since your last pay rise
  • The actions and ideas you’ve implemented that have helped the business

Kathryn believes that pay rise discussions should be seen as an ongoing negotiation rather than a demand.

‘It should always be a collaborative approach,’ she says. ‘Be flexible in these sorts of negotiations. There’s no right or wrong. It’s about coming to an agreement with which both parties can be happy.’

What do you need to prepare?

Always do some research before meeting with your employer. Come armed with information such as:

  • Income for similar roles in other organisations.
  • The financial performance of the business in the previous year.
  • Evidence of how you have had a direct impact during your employment.

The request for a pay rise will be easier for your employer to agree to when faced with proof.

What about career opportunities?

Money matters, but it’s not everything; learning how to ask about career progression is also important. For some, new job titles or responsibilities might align with their goals more than salary increases.

To put yourself in good stead for the best career progression jobs, a versatile qualification like an MBA is a valuable bargaining chip.

Should you ask for a pay rise in an email?

In advice on how to ask for a pay rise, email is usually the least preferred approach. Although it can be helpful for people who find it hard to discuss sensitive topics, your intentions may become lost.

‘In-person discussions let you bring in your influencing skills. It’s not as cut and dry as a demand typed within an email,’ Kathryn says.

It’s also a good idea to follow up on the initial discussion via email so all parties have a written copy of the conversation.

Does an MBA mean better pay?

The benefits of studying for an MBA aren’t only centred on the skills you’ll learn. This qualification can be helpful in career advancement and acquiring a salary increase. After all, Payscale reports that MBA graduate salaries average around $104,000 in Australia.

With an MBA, mastering how to ask for a pay rise will be easy. You can negotiate with confidence knowing your skills are in demand. You’ll possess the ability to prove that you’re committed to upskilling and improving. And you’ll have a qualification that prepares you for senior and executive roles across all industries and sectors.

The ABC analysed the ABS’ employment figures in 2019 and established that Australians in management positions were among the country’s highest paid. 62 per cent of high-income earners held at least a bachelor’s degree. They found:

  • CEOs and senior executives accounted for 7 per cent of the highest earners.
  • Business administration managers made up another 6 per cent.
  • Construction, distribution and production managers account for 6 per cent as well.

An MBA delivers skills that apply to each of these positions. Plus, having one under your belt will also give you an edge over the candidates who haven’t completed postgraduate studies.

Discover what’s possible with an MBA

There’s an art to mastering how to ask for a pay rise, and it’s worth learning the nuances. An MBA will help you execute salary negotiations confidently, and it will make you an attractive prospect both now and in the future of work.

An MBA is your ticket to a new career path, and our Student Enrolment Advisors will show you how. We can help with entry requirements, course providers and MBA specialisations, so get in touch today to find out more.

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