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The Pay Rise Negotiation Cheat Sheet for Young Australians

Do you want to make more money? Many companies offer a once-a-year, across-the-board pay rise that helps earnings to keep up with inflation. But if you’re seeking more, you’ll need to negotiate. And for many of us, negotiating is intimidating. But fortunately,.....

Do you want to make more money? Many companies offer a once-a-year, across-the-board pay rise that helps earnings to keep up with inflation. But if you’re seeking more, you’ll need to negotiate.

And for many of us, negotiating is intimidating. But fortunately, planning and preparation can help take the edge off and position you for success. 

When you ask for a payrise, you’re hoping to convince your employer that your contributions are worth more than a typical annual increase of, on average, 2-4%. So you’ve got to think of all the factors that play a role in your pitch:

  • The timing of your big ask
  • Your employer’s current pay practices
  • The eligibility of other employees for pay rises
  • Market-based pay rates for your position and location.


With that background, let’s look at the quintessential pay rise negotiation checklist. We’ve divided the steps into three categories: researching an appropriate pay rise, preparing your presentation, and final tips.

Research an Appropriate Pay Rise

The goal of this step is to know and understand your employer’s pay practices and general industry pay trends.

1. Familiarise yourself with your employer’s pay practices

Start paying close attention to messaging regarding pay. For example, if your employer announces that there will be a 4% pay rise across the board, you’re unlikely to negotiate a higher increase. Also, some employers provide annual reviews for each worker and don’t address salary at any other time of year. If this is the case in your company, you may want to avoid bringing up the subject at different times of the year. 

2. Research the broader market for industry pay rates

It’s never been easier to get information, although not all information is equally valuable. Find out how much people are making doing your job in your area. If you’re already paid above your market pay rate, negotiating a rise may be difficult. 

3. Read the employee handbook 

If your company has an employee handbook, it probably outlines the process whereby pay rises are granted. And your best bet will be to follow existing policies. For example, if the guide states that the employer only offers a pay rise annually, it doesn’t make sense to expend the energy to prepare to ask for an increase that isn’t available. 

4. Network with other employees through professional associations

Professional associations often perform salary surveys and provide networking opportunities with people in similar jobs. This may be an excellent way to gather information about going rates for your position.

Asking For a Pay Rise: Preparing Your Presentation

With your pay research done, you should have a good idea of how much you want to ask for. Or maybe you will have realised that you’re already compensated competitively. If you decide to move forward with a pay rise negotiation, it’s time to prepare your presentation.

5. Make a list of your successes

This isn’t a list of your lifetime achievements. What you need is a comprehensive list of all the goals you have accomplished for your company. Managers are busy, and they don’t always remember the details of each worker’s achievements. So make that list, and be detailed. 

Document costs savings, productivity improvement, projects completed, above-the-call customer service, and other ways in which you’ve contributed more than your position required. Documented, these achievements may justify a pay rise.

6. Make a list of any additional responsibilities you have added to your job

Most people assume more responsibility as they increase their capability in a job. So remind your employer of your increase in responsibility, newly acquired management skills, or special projects which make you more valuable.

7. Set a pay increase goal

Use your earlier research to ensure that you’re asking for a reasonable pay rise for your job and performance and justly deserved.

8. Improve your negotiation skills

Read books, listen to podcasts, and talk with colleagues and friends who have recently successfully negotiated their own pay rises. You might also practice your discussion skills with friends or colleagues, so you’re less nervous about the actual meeting. Sometimes, just turning the phrases out loud in a real conversation can give you the confidence to proceed.

9. Set up a meeting with your immediate manager or supervisor

It’s not fair to ambush your supervisor or blindside them. Plus, nothing will happen at the meeting if the manager isn’t prepared to discuss a salary increase with you. That’s why it’s helpful to let your boss know what you want to discuss ahead of time. This gives your manager time to talk with Human Resources before your meeting, too.

Final Tips

A successful pay rise negotiation is always based on merit and accomplishment, never on why you need more money. And while your employer undoubtedly cares about you, don’t make this discussion about your personal life.

  • Be straightforward in addressing your request.
  • Be prepared with documentation to back up your accomplishments and contributions.
  • Tell your employer the specific payrise you’d like to see.
  • Present research that supports your request (including industry research and proof of your measurable contributions).
  • If your boss denies your request, ask what you can do to make yourself eligible for an increase.
  • If you’re using an offer from another employer to negotiate a pay rise, be prepared for denial. Proof that you’re looking for a new job could put other opportunities out of reach (such as career development, training and promotions).

Requesting a pay rise, even when you’ve planned and prepared, can still be intimidating. But when you’re professional and calm, you have little to lose. Even if you don’t receive your request, you will have built your confidence and shown that you’re invested in advancing your career and building up the company.

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