19 July 2021

How to negotiate a pay rise

Pay rises were virtually non-existent across most industries in 2020 as companies looked to cut costs while dealing with the pandemic. It’s no secret that the Australian economy has recovered from the effects of COVID-19 better than many countries. Our GDP growth is expected to hit 4.35% in the 2021-22 financial year, up from 1.25% in 2020-21. Despite this, a lot of businesses will still be hesitant to hand out pay increases in 2021.

If your company does offer pay rises, there’s a good chance your boss may not have enough funds for everyone. Therefore, it’s never been more pertinent to be clear, concise and forward when asking for and negotiating a salary increase.

Negotiating for the first time

If you’ve never negotiated a pay rise before, there’s a few things you can do according to PERSOLKELLY Recruitment Consultant Kayla Densley, ‘ask for a one-on-one meeting with your manager, express to them that you would like to request a pay rise’. She says it’s vital to list your reasons for the pay rise and it’s important to be specific. Have your KPIs with you and list any and all relevant achievements. This is your opportunity to remind your boss of your value to the company and all that you’ve achieved throughout the year. You may be tempted to go back further than a year, however that’s only relevant to do so if your pay wasn’t evaluated last year.


When asked how to give yourself the best chance at succeeding in your request for a raise, Kayla stresses that preparation is key. ‘Be prepared, understand what you are contributing to the business so you can measure your outcomes.’ She also states that confidence can play a pivotal role in nailing your pitch, as does keeping it to facts and achievements. The best achievements are ones that can be measured or demonstrated.

Ideally preparing for a pay negotiation should begin when you start a job or after the last salary discussion. Keep a journal to jot down achievements. Digital is best as you can use keyword searches later to find relevant entries. Setting up alerts via Outlook or via the reminders app on your phone can be helpful to ensure you remember when work gets busy. Every fortnight or month are good intervals, any longer in between can lead to difficulty remembering what you’ve done since your last entry.

Have a figure in mind

Asking for a specific amount can also help you get what you want, and it conveys confidence in yourself and your worth. Review the Programmed and PERSOLKELLY 2021 Salary Guide to see high, low end and average salaries for your role. If you’re currently in the low end, it may be easier to rationalise why you deserve an increase. If not, it’s even more important to have examples to show why you deserve what you’re asking for.

When reviewing the guide, it can also be handy to look up what your boss’s role is paying. Knowing what they earn can help you decide on a realistic figure to ask for. If you ask for a raise that would have you earning a similar amount to your superior, it’s extremely unlikely to be granted.

Lay on the loyalty

If you’ve been at a company for a long time, highlight your loyalty. High turnover is a big problem for a lot of businesses. There is a myriad of costs associated with replacing a staff member, and your boss is keenly aware of this. In many cases a raise may be more cost-effective than losing and replacing you. It can take months for a replacement to get up to your level of competence and efficiency.

Non-monetary benefits

If you already know a monetary raise is off the table or your boss tells you early in the discussion, consider asking for non-financial rewards. Employees often crave more flexibility such as different hours and partially working from home. COVID-19 has forced business to embrace it. Seeking training and further education are also options as it can be prudent for companies investing in the skills and futures of employees.

Handling rejection with grace

While following the tips outlined above should put you in good stead for receiving a pay rise, there’s still the chance your boss says no. It could be due to factors outside of your control such as the economy and the bottom line, while other times it may be due to your performance, output or efficiency. It’s important to react professionally and not let the exchange negatively impact the relationship with your superior.

Seek feedback

Getting as much detail from your boss can help you going forwards says Kayla. ‘Ask your manager for specific reasons why your request is denied and then work together on a plan around what you need to work or areas of improvement which can be measured.’ The Muse published a great article on advice on how to take on board constructive criticism. Kayla suggests scheduling monthly meetings with your manager to track your progress. Taking on feedback in a positive way can go a long way to turning a no at this year’s salary review, into a yes at the next one.

PERSOLKELLY is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading staffing and recruitment providers. If you’re looking for work, explore our jobs, or register your details, search and apply for jobs on GO, available free from your App store. If you’re looking for staff, get in touch with us to find out how we can support your business with great people.