How to ask for a pay rise in English

You get to the office and see that your boss is pretty busy. You think, “I’m going to wait until after the meeting to talk to them.” 

Your superior rushes out talking on their cell phone, and it’s already lunchtime. “Well, maybe later.”

Your boss didn’t return to the office that afternoon. “Okay, next week I’ll tell them…”

You’ve probably been through a similar situation. You want to ask for a salary increase in English (pay raise in the US and pay rise in the UK) but you haven’t found the right time, place, or words yet.

Even worse, you feel panicky about even mentioning this to your boss. With the current crisis, the scarcity of jobs, and the competition, these variables make you wonder whether it’s the right time to ask for a pay rise. And if your boss isn’t in a good mood, the situation becomes more complicated.

On the other hand, you know that you have all the merits to earn an increased salary. You work hard, excel at what you do, and have helped your company grow. It’s only right and fitting that your salary should be increased this year. Right?

But how do you find the right words? And if you have to ask for this pay rise in English? Slightly more difficult. 

In this lesson, we’ll show you the steps to take to ask for the pay rise you’ve been dreaming of. And better yet, you’ll be able to express yourself fluently in English.


Find the right moment

You run into your boss in the elevator and try to imply something with your eyes. You make a few gestures but it seems like you can’t catch their eye.

Then you talk about the weather, the state of the country, and mention the rising cost of living. It seems like they missed the hint and say goodbye with a friendly smile. 😅 

Perhaps this wasn’t the right place or time to discuss the matter. You can’t expect your boss to be a fortune teller, either.

It’s better to look for an opportune moment in the day when you know your superior can listen to you calmly, without haste or interruption.

You can get their attention like this:

Excuse me. Mr Grant, do you have a minute?

Good morning, Mrs Holmes. May I discuss something with you?

If your superior is a very busy person, schedule a meeting for a time when you’re both free.

Do you have anything on at 3 o’clock on Thursday?

How would meeting me tomorrow at midday suit you?


Be direct

Excellent. You’ve managed to make an appointment with your boss. That was the easy part. Now you have to think of the right words to say and use the right tone. You don’t want to jeopardise your chances for a pay rise. 

Don’t say: 

I want a pay rise and I want it right now!

There’s a good chance that you won’t get it. In other words, you have to approach the conversation directly but with respect.

Remember that for English speakers, the modal verb would is the best option to make requests formally and respectfully.

For example:

Hi, Diane. I was hoping that we could talk about my salary.

I’d like to revisit my salary.

I would like to ask for a pay rise.

As you can see, there are formal and informal English expressions that you should use according to the occasion, the place, or the degree of familiarity you have with the other person.


Justify your request

When the day comes, it won’t be enough to wear more perfume or a huge smile. Your boss will definitely want you to explain why you think you deserve a pay rise.

Provide all the data you can to support your request: documents, graphs, figures, etc. You can prepare a report or a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate your professional achievements.

The idea is to show that your work has helped the company improve and that your qualities and skills represent an added value for the company.

For example:

I have been working here for a year and in that time, I’ve taken on quite a few new responsibilities.

Since I’ve been in charge of the customer service department, the complaint rate has dropped by 38%.

I have thrown myself into the new international expansion project and, thanks to this project, the company has achieved its best turnover figures to date.


Be precise

Now we’ve reached the negotiating arena. It’s normal for there to be a little bit of a “tug-of-war” before an agreement is reached. 

Your boss will say that the company needs to tighten its belt a bit. You’ll say it’s time to recognise your talent and effort. The important thing is for you to be clear about your salary expectations, since you may be offered a pay rise, but it may not be enough.

I meant a 10% rise.

I think a 10% rise would be fair based on the tasks I perform.

Based on the job market, a person with my post and responsibility should be earning at least €12,000 a year and my current salary does not meet this rate.


Great! Now all you have to do is be patient and cross your fingers. Remember that knowing English will open many doors for you in the professional world, one of which is the possibility of earning more money for your work. 

Keep visiting our blog to learn how to communicate in English like a real native speaker, or download our app for easier access to all of our lessons. 

You can also register for the ABA English course and deepen your knowledge even further. We’re waiting for you!

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