10 things not to say when asking for a raise

If you're going in to negotiate your salary, it's important you know what to say and what not to say.

Asking your boss for a raise mightn’t be the most comfortable conversation you’ll have this year, particularly when you know broaching the subject won’t guarantee you actually get one.

Meanwhile, what you say and how you say it could go a long way, so going in confident and conscious of what comes out of your mouth will be important. After all, you don’t want to come across as arrogant, or be a shrinking violet either.

Here’s a list of general no-nos when it comes to asking for a pay rise.

Phrases to steer clear of

1. I hate to bring this up

It might be hard popping the question but hate is a strong word and starts the conversation off on a negative. It might be an idea to begin with some positives about the company and the opportunities you’ve been given to date.

2. My minimum expectation would be

It’s good to have a figure in mind but putting forward your minimum expectation could limit the amount your employer may be willing to give you, as you’ve essentially told them you’ll be satisfied with an amount that they may have added to.

3. You might not think I'm worth this much

This sounds like you yourself aren’t sure if you’re worth the amount you’re asking for. If you believe you’ve met and exceeded expectations, and delivered consistent results and on time, there shouldn’t be a question about your value to your company. 

4. I quit (unless you’re prepared to)

If you take this approach, it’s unlikely your boss is going to chase you down the corridor begging you to come back and that they’ll pay you whatever you want. So, if you’re going to throw that old chestnut at them, make sure you’re willing to face the consequences.

5. That's all you're prepared to offer me?

If they’ve agreed to pay you more, even if it’s not close to what you wanted, it might be an idea to still say thank you and ask about what you could do to achieve the desired amount over the next 12 months. For instance, would you be willing to take on more responsibilities and a broader role?

6. I want double what you’re paying me

It might be worth letting your boss put the first offer on the table so you have room to negotiate. Another factor to think about is whether you’re open to alternative rewards—bonus incentives, rostered days off, a car or phone allowance, or maybe even above mandatory super contributions.

7. I can get more elsewhere

This might not be an advisable thing to say as it sounds like you’ve been looking for other jobs and they may be more inclined to give a pay rise to someone who sees a future at the company.

8. I need this much for these reasons

Your personal life shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to what you think you’re worth to your employer. This is about your performance, not things such as any existing debts you may have or life goals you think a bigger salary would help you to achieve.

9. I heard my co-worker is on more than me

Doing research and getting an idea of what the market rate is for your position (bearing in mind experience and education) is one thing, but bringing up what your co-workers get paid is another.

What you heard over after-work drinks or in the office kitchen could come across as unprofessional and have negative undertones. Plus, your info may not be correct and if it is, they may be getting paid more for a reason.

10. I'm worth a lot more than that

This could sound a little egotistical, particularly if you’re going to chuck in something like—you do the work of three people. Instead, maybe put forward some examples you’ve prepared earlier—accomplishments, contributions, how you’ve helped to cut costs and taken on additional work.

Remember, figures can go a long way in quantifying what you’ve achieved, as can any additional documentation you’ve received from clients and colleagues highlighting your successes to date.

What else?

If you don’t get the raise, don’t leave empty handed. A ‘no’ could simply mean, not yet. And, it provides an opportunity to get advice and set something up with your employer down the track.

Figure out a timeline and a date when you can revisit the discussion, and take down notes around what you can do to earn a raise before your next review so you have a goal to work towards.

Asking for a salary increase isn't always easy but hopefully these tips get you a step closer.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.