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Business English: Negotiating a Pay Rise

Have you recently taken on more responsibilities in your job? Have you been in your job for a long time and your wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living? Maybe you’ve been offered another position but want to stay in your old job? Or maybe you have just achieved or even overpassed all of your objectives? If any of these apply to you, it might well be time to negotiate a pay rise. These materials look at some of the skills and language required to negotiate a pay rise in English.



Video Resources


Firstly, the following video gives some excellent insight into how to ask for a pay rise, have a look and note down any useful language that you think you might be able to use yourself when asking for a pay rise.


The second video contains a lot of really useful functional language for asking for a pay rise.


Preparation task: Writing a pay rise script

Preparing a script for asking for a pay rise can help you feel confident during your meeting. Depending on your confidence speaking, you may write a list of bullet points or a more developed script with complete sentences. Your script should have three key parts:

  • An introduction: state your purpose for calling the meeting.

  • The body of your speech: note your ideal salary, how you arrived at that figure and the reasons why you feel you deserve a pay rise.

  • Your conclusion: summarise your strengths, note your preferred pay increase and invite your manager to comment.

When preparing your script, stress professional reasons rather than personal ones. Your boss acts on behalf of the company, so benefits to the business are persuasive. Use confident words and clear facts rather than emotional words such as 'believe' and 'feel', which can sound uncertain.

Here is an example script to base your own on:

'Thank you for meeting with me today. I am excited about my role and the part I play in the company's success. I have been with the company for five years now, and I hope to spend many more years working towards its goals. For that reason, I would like to discuss my salary and performance.

Since I began working here I've undertaken an independent study to get my MBA. This has helped me expand my knowledge and skill set significantly. I think you can see that in my performance. I don't just meet my sales targets, I exceed them by between 15% and 30% every month. I've also taken on more responsibility, helping you interview new salespeople and training them to get the kind of results I do.

I have researched the salaries of other salespeople in the city. Considering this and my experience, education and performance, a salary increase of 7% seems reasonable. Does this sound appropriate to you?'

Practise your script in front of a mirror at home until you feel confident delivering it. Your preparation should help you stay calm during your meeting.



Role Playing Exercise


Role playing a salary negotiation is a brilliant way to prepare for an actual negotiation meeting. Try the following exercise here - 

Let’s set the scene for our role-play.


You are an inside sales representative for an insurance company, currently earning $95,000. Your goal is to negotiate a raise to $125,000. Your main concern is about countering with sufficient data during the negotiation.


Today, you are speaking with Steve, your direct manager. Steve is able to champion for your raise but he needs additional approval from HR and Finance.

Let’s begin.


You: Hello Steve, thank you for meeting with me today. I would like to discuss my current role and the value I bring to the team, as well as my compensation.


Steve (Manager): Absolutely, I’m glad you brought this up. As you know, I always appreciate feedback the team. Tell me more about what you’re thinking.


[Your turn to continue the negotiation, focusing on presenting your case with data. You will use specific contributions you’ve made, any targets you’ve exceeded, and your future plan to add value to the organization.]


You: As you are aware, I have continued to serve the organization delivering 10% sales growth in 2023. And my 5 year strategic plan is reflecting a 15% growth in sales. I have also conducted some in-depth market triangulation. Based on this, I need my base salary to be at $130,000.


Steve: Yes, I agree you have had a great year. It’s also great to see you owning our accomplishments, and looking ahead to the projected growth you’ve outlined. Your dedication is evident, and we certainly recognize your contributions. However, a jump from $95,000 to $130,000 is quite significant.

Can you help me understand how you arrived at this figure?


[Your turn to justify your request. This is where you can bring in the market research and data you’ve gathered. Explain how your requested salary aligns with the market rate for someone with your experience and achievements in your industry and region. Remember, the goal is to make a compelling case that your request is reasonable and justified.]


You: Here is one data point from Team Blind that shows the average for someone with my 15 years of experience in our region; it’s based on three data points. Additionally, here is a testimonial from a peer in the same industry, and data from the Indeed salary calculator. They all suggest a salary range of $130,000 to $150,000.

Steve: Thank you for providing this information. It’s helpful to see the data from Team Blind, the peer testimonial, and the Indeed salary calculator. It certainly gives us a clearer picture of the industry standards for someone with your level of experience. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to research and present this.

While we do need to consider our internal salary structures and budgets, your contributions to the company are highly valued. Let me discuss this with our finance and HR teams to see what we can do. We might not be able to meet the exact figure you’re asking for, but we’re certainly open to finding a fair solution.


Would you be open to discussing additional benefits or perks, in case we can’t reach the full $130,000? Things like additional vacation days, flexible working arrangements, or a performance-based bonus could be part of the package.


[Your turn to respond. This is an opportunity to show some flexibility while still aiming for your main goal. You can also use this moment to negotiate other terms that might be important to you, in addition to the base salary. But remember to stay confident in your initial ask.]


You: I am cognizant of our budget limitations, which is why I asked for $130,000 and not $150,000. I would also consider the inclusion of leadership coach training as an additional incentive (assumed value is $20,000).

Steve: That’s a very reasonable approach. I’m glad to see that you’re considering the company’s position as well. Investing in your professional development, especially with leadership coaching, aligns with our organization’s goals too. It’s a valuable addition that can benefit both you and the company in the long run.

Let me propose this to HR and Finance: A base salary of $120,000, which is a substantial increase from your current compensation, and include the leadership coaching program you’re interested in. This package reflects your valuable contributions and our commitment to your professional growth. Additionally, we can revisit the salary discussion in a year, and if your performance continues to align with the company’s growth, we can explore further adjustments to your compensation. Of course, this will need to be blessed by our appropriate channels.


[Your turn to respond. Here you can either accept the offer, negotiate further, or ask for time to consider the proposal. I always recommend asking for more time because it shows you as a calm professional who is willing to take her time to review the offer. But, remember to acknowledge the offer and express your appreciation for their willingness to negotiate and meet your needs.]

[Note that with this offer, your total value from the negotiation, including the leadership coaching, amounts to $140,000. This is above the original target base salary of $125,000. Being flexible allows you to extract more value from a negotiation.]


You: I appreciate the offer and your support of my career growth. I sincerely appreciate it. I would like to take 24 hours to review the proposal with my spouse. Will that be ok?

Steve: Absolutely, I completely understand that this is an important decision and discussing it with your spouse is a wise step. Take the time you need. Let’s reconvene tomorrow, and you can share your thoughts or any further questions you might have. I am looking forward to championing your salary increase with our leaders and finding a mutually beneficial arrangement.


[End of Role-Play]


After action review: I recommend to my clients that they reflect on the nuances and approaches in a negotiation. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What were the original objectives or goals of this negotiation or activity? Did you accomplish them exactly? Did you exceed them, and how?

  • What could have been done differently for a better outcome?

  • Are there any areas or skills that require further development or practice?

  • How can the lessons learned be applied to future negotiations or similar situations?

  • How do you feel about your performance in this negotiation?

  • Were there any personal strengths or weaknesses that became apparent?

Every negotiation offers insights into our style and skills. Doing an after action review allows us to refine our methods for the next conversation.



These materials can be downloaded in PDF form here;

Negotiating a Pay Rise
Download PDF • 422KB

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