How to ask your boss for a raise: 4 tips for success

It can be daunting to ask for a raise - so it's important to do your homework and stay calm and professional during the negotiations

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At the start of the year, seven in 10 employees in the UAE were confident of a pay rise - yet this optimism has not translated into reality across the board.

While some candidates report healthy pay rises, some have received less than they would like, while others have had their salaries frozen.

If your hopes for higher pay in 2023 have not yet materialised, it may be time to take the matter into your own hands.

Everyone is entitled to fair pay. If your role has expanded, you have added value to the business, are paid below the market rate, or haven’t had a salary increase in several years, you have every right to ask for a raise – and get it.

As tempting as it might be to avoid a difficult conversation and request more money by email, meeting with your manager face-to-face is preferable.

It is much easier to gauge their reaction and negotiate in person. And as daunting as it seems, doing your homework and arming yourself with the facts will set you up for a constructive conversation.

1. Build a compelling case

Why should your employer pay you more? In any salary discussion, the first question your manager is likely to ask is why you deserve a raise.

Justifications for asking for more money include taking on more responsibilities. If your role has evolved since your last pay review and your workload has increased, you are justified in asking for more money.

To support your argument, review your job description to see how it has changed.

Making a tangible contribution to your company’s success is also grounds for a pay rise.

Perhaps one of your ideas has saved the business money or improved efficiencies, or you have won a significant piece of new business. If this is the case, gather evidence of what you did and any positive feedback you received, and be able to quantify it.

For example: “I won two new clients in the past six months, generating X dirhams in revenue for the company.”

And, be prepared to explain how a higher salary will motivate you and deliver for the business.

2. Know your worth

Before you start your negotiations, have a clear and realistic salary in mind, backed up by credible data.

You can research the typical salary range for someone in your role and with your experience via PayScale or Glassdoor and by consulting independent salary and benefits benchmarking reports.

Speaking to a recruitment expert can also help you to understand your earning potential in the current market.

3. Choose your time wisely

The timing of your salary discussion is crucial. The best time to negotiate your salary is after you receive a job offer or during your annual performance review.

The worst time is following poor financial results or a particularly challenging time for the company.

That said, if you feel you are so underpaid that you are ready to leave your job, talking to your manager is recommended.

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

All too often, not earning enough is one of the reasons candidates give for moving on, which they might be able to resolve with an honest conversation.

There is more to compensation than salary, so consider your entire package before making any hasty decisions. You may be better off than you think.

4. Have a plan B

Your discussion might not go as well as you hoped, so have a back-up plan ready just in case.

If your employer can’t afford to increase your salary right now, consider other benefits you could negotiate that would make you feel valued.

These might be extra days' paid time off, more days working from home, or a bonus for winning new business.

Schedule an appropriate time to revisit the conversation. If your employer feels your performance doesn’t merit a pay increase, ask what specific targets you need to hit to qualify and agree on a time to review your progress.

Even with the most thorough preparation and convincing argument based on your first-rate performance, there is no guarantee that your employer will agree to increase your pay – now or later.

However, if you do your homework, gather evidence, and stay calm, professional and objective throughout your negotiations, you will improve your chances of success.

Top tips to ask for a pay increase

  • Build a compelling case
  • Know your worth
  • Choose your time wisely
  • Have a plan B

Zahra Clark is head of Middle East and North Africa for Tiger Recruitment

UAE Salary Guide 2023 - in pictures

Updated: May 22, 2023, 6:20 AM