Asking for a Pay Increase

Scenario: “I have worked in my department for four years. We’ve had a lot of turnover which has been good and bad. Good because I’ve learned a lot by covering other positions and bad because I now have significantly more work and no higher title or more salary. I know money is tight, but I want to ask my manager for a raise.”

Preparation: How does your department handle non-merit salary increases? Be aware that departments often have their own guidelines on salary management. For example, some departments only have certain times of the year when a supervisor can reclassify a person’s position to a higher level. And, the university has set times of year when employees are able to receive a merit increase (if approved by the legislature). In short, making a decision to give you more money is often beyond the control of your supervisor so do not expect to walk away from your conversation with a firm commitment to increase your pay; your supervisor will most likely need to get back with you.

Be ready to discuss specific tasks or projects that you have taken on during your tenure in this position in this department; focus in particular on the last 12 months. Realize that everyone takes on more and/or different tasks during their employment. What you want to be able to communicate effectively to your supervisor is that the scope of your responsibilities has become more complex or that the number of tasks you now own has increased by a large percentage.

This scenario focuses on asking for an increase in pay. Don’t assume that this would always involve getting a new job title. Similar scenarios might also focus on asking for a new title along with an increase in pay. Before you initiate a discussion, think through the specifics regarding your request from your supervisor.

Conduct a few internet searches to see what you can find for salaries for your position in central Texas. Determine the university’s salary range for your job. Consider the salary increases you have had during your tenure in the position. Additionally, take a look at your current Total Rewards Statement. You may or may not want to use this information in your discussion.

Finally, are you in good standing with your supervisor? Was your last evaluation favorable? Is the feedback you receive positive? Are you on any corrective action?

Initiation: After setting up a time in advance with your supervisor for your discussion, you might state something like: “Thank you for meeting with me today. I wanted a chance to talk with you about my position and some of the changes in responsibilities I’ve had in the past few years due to the resignations and new systems we’ve introduced. The first thing I want to say is that I am pleased I have been able to learn so much and been able to grow professionally in my knowledge base and skill sets. And while I am grateful to have taken on more complex tasks, and want to continue doing what I do, I also would like to see what could be done to move my compensation more in line with the job I am performing today. I’ve identified some of the more significant changes to my responsibilities since I was hired into this position and would be glad to give you a quick rundown. Does that sound like a good place for us to start our discussion?”

Discussion: STATE: Share your facts; Tell your story; Ask for their view; Talk tentatively; Encourage testing.

In the preparation stage, you probably acquainted yourself with salary data and may have a notion of the salary increase you believe would be appropriate or that you would like to have. Do let your supervisor warm up to the idea that you are requesting more money before you go into specifics. Alternatively, you may not even want to get into a specific amount of increase and leave it up to your supervisor to do what s/he can.

Conclusion: In a salary focused conversation, it is rare that a supervisor makes a final decision at the end of the initial conversation. An example of a conclusion for this scenario: “I’m glad we were able to have this discussion. As I said, I like what I am doing and want to keep doing it. My request is to receive some financial recognition of the additional responsibilities that I’ve taken on. Is there any other information that I could provide that would help you/you and your manager make a decision on my request? When should I expect to hear back from you?”