How to ask for a pay rise… and get one!

I’ve been keeping a little secret, sublime seekers. While it’s true that I LOVE fashion and beauty and shopping and sharing the best of those finds with you, fashion and beauty and shopping doesn’t quite pay the bills (in fact they kinda create some bills of their own… errrr). In the rest of my life, I pay the bills by working in the business of people. For a long time I’ve been passionate about the difference people can make to organisational success and I get a lot of enjoyment from helping businesses get that relationship right to create the best environment for people and the best results for the business.

Now the last time I shared a secret with you guys, it was that I’m a feminist. That is to say I believe in equality for women (not burning my bra), I believe women have it pretty good in Australia (compared to other parts of the world), I believe there’s still some disparity in workplaces and I don’t believe that it’s anyone or any one group of people’s (i.e. men’s) fault.

Where’s this going?

Good question. I am constantly amazed by the incredible women in my life and our country, women who are intelligent, witty, wise, thoughtful and driven. And I know that description fits many of you that visit here on this website.


A sublime-seeking wonderwomen, just like you!

My work and study bring me in contact with a bunch of info and insights that might be helpful in assisting you to get where you’re going (and where you deserve to be!) in your lives.

If I could choose one thing to do on this blog, I’d love it to be that – to share some delightful discoveries with you bright, driven, lovely-things, to help you to be the most fabulous version of yourselves.

Perhaps it’s a new lippy that’ll save you reapplying 7 times in a day, perhaps its some tips on how to rock a new trend and feel confident doing it, perhaps it’s a sale to save some of your hard earned pennies, or perhaps (like today!) it’s a suggestion on how to get where you’re going in your career.

A quick disclaimer

While I work in the business of people, the info I’m sharing here is not specifically based on my experience within any particular organisation, but rather informed by study and reading and anecdotally coming to understand what’s happening in workplaces through networks and industry and stufffff. You know.

Lets talk turkey!

Lets! Studies have repeatedly shown that women in Australia are paid, on average, less than men who they perform the same job. It doesn’t happen everywhere, there are (of course) exceptions, great progress has been made etc etc but on average, the gap (albeit a shrinking one) continues to exist.

Mind the Gap

The Gap – yep, it’s still there. Can’t we get someone in to fix this thing?!

Data also shows us that women are typically less likely to ask for a pay rise than men! What’s that about? I have several ideas, none of which matter, because we should just get to the business of HOW to ask for a pay rise! Sublime seekers, I give you four (very detailed) steps to ask for a pay rise and get one!

1. It’s a matter of time 

For a bunch of reasons, timing matters!

  • Know your company’s remuneration cycle. There’s very little point asking for a pay rise at Christmas, if salary reviews are done in June. And truth be told, there’s not much point asking for a pay rise in June if salary reviews are done in June, because they’ve likely be budgeted for, and discussed, well prior. Depending on the size of the company, expect the behind-the-scenes salary decision making to start up to three months prior to you receiving a letter saying it’s time to shout yourself some Louboutins. If you’re not sure of your company’s process, ask your manager or have a poke around for a policy, it’s usually outlined somewhere. Note that in those policies, some companies have strict rules about pay rises outside of the designated time (i.e. they don’t do them).  The good news is, that within lots of businesses who make salary adjustments at end of financial year, now is a pretty good time to be having a discussion.
  • If you’ve been with the company or in your current role less than 12 months, or have had a reasonable/significant pay rise within the last 12 months, it might pay (pun!) to wait, rather than ask again just yet. You don’t want to appear money-hungry, or impatient. Read your situation.
  • Sometimes you need to read the mood too. If you’ve just contributed to a significant success, using that as a catalyst to have the discussion can be very smart indeed.
  • Very important to note: do NOT ambush your boss! Let your manager know you’d like to make a time to have a chat with them. If you’re nervous about saying you want to talk about salary, let them know you’d like to discuss “growth and opportunities”.

2. Make it easy for them to say yes AKA be prepared!

It pays (pun!) to demonstrate you’re serious about your agenda. Put together some succinct info to send to your manager before your meeting or take along to talk through at your meeting. It might include the following:

  • quantitative evidence of the impact you’ve had i.e. increased sales/revenue/results/results compared to budget/savings – the more translatable to $, the better
  • written feedback/praise from customers or others within the business
  • tasks you’re completing outside your position description (big ticket items only)
  • changes/achievements that have occurred since your last review. Note: if you are reminding your manager of an achievement they’re aware of, do so modestly. You do not want to oversell something they already know.
  • consider including a view to the future as well. Typically, bonuses are paid for a job well done, pay rises are given for a permanent change…  what are you able to continue to deliver rather that makes giving you a permanent pay rise worthwhile?
  • some people will suggest including market salary data, I’m not one of them. A well-crafted “I am valuable to this company” argument is much harder to rebut than the “you’re not paying me correctly” argument. You were happy to accept the job at a certain level, turning around and saying it’s no longer enough isn’t a smart play. It also makes it easy for business to say “well go there, then”. Even if you feel you’re underpaid for what you do, there’s a better way to state your case.

Ultimately, the upshot is this: your company will not pay you more for doing your existing job. You need to be able to demonstrate the ways you do more… and are therefore worth more.

It’s important to put your case in writing. Your manager likely won’t have the final decision on adjusting your pay. Arm your boss with the evidence they need to state your case further up the chain.

3. Influence widely. 

It is common within organisations to have a moderation process during salary review time. This helps ensure that the generous manager with average performing staff doesn’t give bigger increases than the budget-conscious manager with high performing staff. Managers have an open discussion about the comparative performance of their people, in some organisations they will even rank them. Obviously, it pays to have more than one person in the room singing your praises!

"Andrea? I've never heard of Andrea!" will not lead to a pay rise.

“Andrea? I’ve never heard of Andrea!” in moderation will not lead to a Chanel-sized pay rise.

If you’re asking for a pay rise outside salary review time, there will still be other stakeholders involved in the decision. Engage outside your area.

4. Be prepared to hear no… and capitalise on it

We won’t all get a yes, every time. But a “no” now, isn’t necessarily bad, in fact it can often be the groundwork you need to get a “yes” next time.

The saying, ‘there’s no harm in asking’ is only true if you handle the answer well… regardless of what it is.

If you get a “we agree you’re worth more, but can’t increase your salary right now…” answer you can thank your manager for their consideration and either seek permission to revisit the topic in 3-6 months when the climate is better or ask them if they’d consider an alternative arrangement. This might include company support of training/professional development, exposure/opportunity in another part of the business, flexible working arrangements, the promise of a half-yearly pay review etc. Think broadly and be ready to discuss this before you go in.

If you get a “you’re not ready yet…” answer

  • be gracious
  • ask for feedback, “what can I do differently?” “what would you need to see from me to justify an increase?”
  • make a plan, in writing. Agree with your manager on the development required, add it to your development plan (make one if you don’t have one) and revisit it regularly with your manager to seek their feedback and ensure you’re on track

Remember that the person telling you ‘no’ is likely apprehensive! Ensuring the conversation goes positively (regardless of the answer) can leave a lasting impression!

When you get that “yes”…

  • crack the champers baby cakes! We’re going to the shops!

PinkChampagne pic by

Some Dos and Don’ts


  • practice your conversations first, out loud.
  • revisit the Finds to make you feel BRAVE post if you’re feeling nervy
  • dress for the job you want! This is most certainly a hair-brushing occasion!


  • get emotional. I believe there are some occasions it’s ok to cry at work. This is absolutely not one of them. Practice until you’re not emotional about it.
  • bring up your colleagues pay. EVER. Pulling out the “I know what <colleague> gets paid” booby trap is bound to put your employer on the defensive.
  • discuss your personal reasons for wanting or needing a pay rise. The reasons to give you a pay rise are related to your output at work only, not your personal life.
  • use another job as leverage. Unless you’re really prepared to walk if your current employer says no. Even then, kinda crap way to leave. You might not burn your bridge but you’ll probably singe it.

(NB – I’ve tried at least half of these don’ts! We live and learn baby, live and learn.)

Things you can do now to set yourself up for a pay rise in the future

Even if it’s not the right time to ask for a pay rise, it IS the right time to lay the ground work!

Do this now:

  • indicate your desire to grow and perform well in your company
  • seek clarity around the expectations of you. Ideally, ask what exceeding those expectations would look like, too.
  • make a plan with your manager to grow your experience and deliver. Stick to the plan, revisit the plan with your manager regularly.
  • if something doesn’t go well at work, acknowledge it with your manager, share your learnings/insights and move on
  • if you’re new to a role, be careful about too aggressively indicating your desire to take ‘the next step’… some workplace cultures love this, but others don’t. If your culture is the latter, talk in terms of your desire to ‘learn and contribute as much as possible’.

Take a crack at it, sublime seekers. If you play it smart, you’ll end up with a pay rise, or closer to a pay rise. Money isn’t everything and won’t make you happy at work, but it sure does help you to buy shiny things, and shiny things are ALWAYS a good idea.


Have you asked for a pay rise and got one? What are your tips? How do you feel about this sort of post on Sublime Finds? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!