How you approach a discussion about an increase to your salary can impact the outcome.

The first tip is to be ready to be your own biggest champion – to sell yourself:

  • It would be a big mistake to ask for a pay rise because you've heard through the grapevine that someone else in your department, peer group or grade has received one. It is also not a great negotiating tactic to ask for an uplift to your salary because you haven't received one in the last 12 months. Learn what the process for pay and reward is in your organisation (assuming of course that there is one!)
  • You need to clearly show your line manager why your pay should increase based on the work you have done and the value you have added to the business. Make no mistake, your employer will consider your financial value based on your contributions.
  • Think about how you've contributed, what you've achieved (or over-achieved), the knowledge or learning you've undertaken or how you've developed others. You are going to have to present all your recent successes as justification for a pay rise.

The second tip would be to know your facts. Do you know what the average industry salary or "going rate" is for your role, in a company of your size, with your responsibilities? A salary guide is a good place to start or talk with trusted peers in a like-for-like organisation or a recruiter with knowledge of your specialist work.

The third tip is picking your moment. The most professional way to approach this private conversation is to schedule a meeting with your manager. Grabbing them on the hoof when they will have many other things on their mind just isn't appropriate, nor is tackling the issue in any social time you have together.

It is a serious topic, and the conversation will be much more productive if you create the right time and place to discuss it. If your line manager is not the primary decision maker, work with them to ensure they have all the information they need to make a case on your behalf.

Don't expect an answer right away. Your manager probably does not have the authority to instruct changes to your salary without consultation with others, so it might take a little time. But that doesn't mean you should give up. Try to establish a timeframe for receiving feedback – that way you can approach the conversation again without giving the impression that you are badgering your manager.

Does the change to your salary have to be a cash rise? There are many ways to value your total reward package. If a cash payment is not an option are there any benefits you could access instead? Or flexible working time you could request?

Finally, if the outcome disappoints you, it is really important that you remain professional. It's OK to share your disappointment with your manager but do so in a way that maintains your dignity, placing you in the best position to maintain a good working relationship.