Asking for a promotion or pay rise

Monday 03, September 2018

Sponsored: Preparation and mindset are key to achieving progression in your role

Appraisals can be incredibly stressful for a large proportion of employees and when it comes to putting forward your case for a promotion or a pay rise, timing is key. Body language, confidence and a strong pitch based on merit and achievement is paramount.

There is the general expectation of receiving an increment in pay that is at least commensurate to the rising cost of living. Should there be no mention of a raise after two years, it would be reasonable to address this. Inevitably, there are some organisations that expect the employee to speak up regarding promotions and pay-rises, and if nothing is said, then it is assumed that all is well.

However, many large corporates have structured salary banding, which are seemingly in place to make it clear as to expectations in a role and making it less of a necessity for an employee to ask for a raise.

The pay scales operate through matching levels of responsibility and seniority. As one progresses, the compensation package will increase by default.

Preparation is key

Asking for a pay-rise should be the result of due diligence and thorough preparation. It is beneficial to have an understanding of your current organisation’s salary bandings to ensure that what you are asking for is realistic and obtainable.

To further strengthen your case, it is useful to know what the market rate is for an individual carrying out a similar role within a comparable organisation.You may wish to undertake research online and contact recruitment agencies operating within your area of expertise to obtain job specifications and salary bandings.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn are a useful resource, with organisations advertising their roles directly. The full compensation information including benefits and bonus potential is often readily available in these instances.

Track your progress

It is important to tack your achievements at work through a set period, so when presenting your case for a promotion or pay rise, you are able to highlight where you have gone above and beyond expectations set. This may be in the form of saving the organisation money or through helping others to hit their personal targets. When voicing these achievements, be specific and have examples, including figures and projects.


When going in to the meeting with your line manager, a positive mindset is essential. Asking for a promotion or pay rise should primarily be based on merit and confidence is key when highlighting successes that would warrant the promotion.

“Asking for a pay-rise should be the result of due diligence and thorough preparation”

There is however a fine line between being assertive and coming across as pushy. Taking a balanced and measured approach to the meeting will be invaluable.

Long-term view

Despite putting forward a very strong case for a pay rise or promotion, an immediate positive and quantifiable result is not always the case, for a variety of reasons.

In this regard, you should be aware that the conversation may well be a negotiation of your present situation and may have an impact further down the line.

Your manager may not be able to action your requests straight away. They ought to, however, take note of your points and formulate a strategic plan as to how to reach your desired goal – whether this is in the form of a title and responsibilities change or remuneration increase.

Being open to working collaboratively with your manager will be a step in the right direction and demonstrate a proactive attitude. Also be open to creating a timescale of duties and accomplishments in order to achieve the financial and title objectives you seek.

Consider a move

After having the conversation with your manager and gauging their response, you may come to the conclusion that the only solution is to move elsewhere. This should not be seen as a negative, but perhaps the solution.

According to DMJ’s Salary Survey 2018/2019, a move to another organisation can bring with it a salary increase of up to 66% more than you would receive were you to remain at the same company. Based on feedback we have received from the industry, three-quarters of assistant company secretary level professionals and above in London recognise that strategic moves are key to achieving an attractive pay increase and title change.

We find that the most ambitious individuals strive to move more regularly in order to keep ahead of their competition and therefore often command higher salaries than those who remain within the same company for a longer period of time. 

Leena Myers is associate director at DMJ 


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