How to ask your boss for a pay rise in 5 steps

By Robert Half on 20 June 2023
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

If you’re like most people, the thought of asking your boss for a pay rise is a daunting prospect. However, if an annual salary review is not forthcoming, it may be a case of if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Maybe you feel like you’ve taken on responsibilities that go above and beyond the scope of your role? Maybe you have smashed your KPIs and secured some really big wins for the company? Perhaps you’ve been a loyal and competent employee for a long period of time, and feel the time is right for an increase to reward your service? Or maybe you’ve discovered that your salary is below par, and you wish to bump it up to a fair and equitable rate?

Whatever the reason, finding the courage to start the conversation can be the hardest part. But the good news is that with the right knowledge and preparation, you can approach this sensitive topic with confidence, and give yourself the best chance for a favourable outcome.

So, if you’re looking for expert tips to navigate the situation, read on to learn how to ask your boss for a pay rise in five easy steps.

Step 1: Do your research

An important step when pursuing a pay rise is to understand how your current salary compares to others in your role. Be sure to seek out accurate and current data for the local Hong Kong market, which can be found in resources such as the Robert Half 2023 Hong Kong Salary Guide.

Within the guide, you’ll find a salary range for each position that takes into account variable factors, such as the level of experience. With this information you can get a benchmark on where your current salary fits, and what you can realistically aim for.

Step 2: Set your meeting

When requesting an increase in salary, the timing and execution of how and when you ask can make all the difference. Never spring the question on your manager out of the blue, as putting them on the spot is unlikely to go down well.

Instead, request a meeting with them, letting them know why you wish to meet to give them a chance to prepare beforehand. It’s also important to voice your request at a favourable time within the larger picture of the organisation. Find out if the company has a regular time when salaries are reviewed, which is often a month or two prior to the financial year before the annual budget is set.

Consider too the current performance of the organisation in the wider market. It is better to time your request when business is going well, and avoid asking during a downturn.

Related: Learn simple tips for a successful salary negotiation

Step 3: Prepare your pitch

The difference between securing an increase and missing out comes largely down to your ability to demonstrate to your boss why you deserve a raise, so spending time on your pitch is key.

Clearly demonstrating the value you bring to the company is a must, and this comes back to your reason for asking for a raise. Has your position grown to include more responsibility than the original scope of the role? Are you consistently smashing your KPIs? Make a list of real-life situations that highlight when this has occurred. Having actual examples to draw from will really help you state your case.

Related: Uncover the dangers of lying about your salary

Step 4: Be clear on your expectations

At this point, you should have a good understanding on where your existing salary sits in the current market, and be confident about your reasons for requesting a pay rise. It’s a good idea to now identify the salary amount you are hoping to achieve.

As Cherry Chan, Division Manager at Robert Half Hong Kong explains, it is best to have some flexibility in your expectations.

"Keep in mind that your request for a pay rise will often play out as a negotiation, and your manager will potentially make a counteroffer to your requested amount. Having a salary range in mind is a great way to handle this. Avoid being stuck on a rigid figure, instead, be flexible within your specified salary range. You can start by requesting the higher end of the range, which then gives you some leeway to achieve a positive outcome if a counteroffer is made. Plus, with a range in mind, you’ll also be clear on the minimum you are willing to accept."

Related: How to negotiate salary as a fresh graduate

Step 5: Be sure to follow-up

While your manager may give you an answer during your meeting, it’s more likely they will take some time to consider your request. It’s a good idea to send a courtesy email after the meeting to avoid misunderstandings and be sure the key points of your request are in writing. If you are unsuccessful on this occasion, seek feedback as to why and if appropriate, discuss when a suitable time frame for a review might be, for example, in three or six months.

How to ask your boss for a pay rise – top tips

There’s no doubt requesting a salary increase can be tricky – but when you keep these top tips in mind your chance of success gets a big boost.

  • Do your research: Start by finding out the average salary for your role so you have a benchmark
  • Set your meeting: Let your boss know why you want to meet and make sure you time it to suit the needs of the business
  • Prepare your pitch: Gather real-life examples that back up your claims and demonstrate why you deserve the pay rise
  • Be clear on your expectations: Have a salary range in mind that you are comfortable with, so you have room to negotiate
  • Be sure to follow-up: Send an email that summarises your request and if unsuccessful, ask for feedback and a time frame for review.

If you’re ready to accelerate your career send us your CV or get in touch with our team today. As Hong Kong’s leading recruitment agency, we’ll help you find the right fit sooner.

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