Ask The Expert: How To Negotiate A Pay Raise

You may still deserve a higher salary despite working from home and the sluggish economy. 

By Sasha Gonzales      13 August 2021

The last time you stepped into your office was over a year ago, yet your workload has doubled and you’ve accepted extra responsibilities. You feel like a pay raise is in order, but your company is trying to recover from lost business since the pandemic began and you’re unsure how to justify asking for more money (especially since you’re still working from home). Career and executive coach Paul Heng of Next Career Consulting Group says you can still request for a higher salary, and shares some tips to go about it.

Q: Is it ever too soon to ask for a salary increase? Can you request a raise if you’ve only been working at your company for under a year?

Paul: The amount of time you’ve been at a job doesn’t determine whether or not you deserve a raise. Every job has a perceived value and this value goes up when you take on more responsibilities. If your role within the company expands, or you are promoted to a more senior position and have to do more work or supervise more people, it’s only fitting that you should ask for more pay if you haven’t already been offered a higher salary.

Q: What’s the best way to ask for a raise?

Paul: If you believe that a raise is justified, ask your direct supervisor for a face-to-face meeting to discuss your contributions. This allows for a more personal exchange and gives your supervisor the chance to ask you questions (and vice versa). Afterwards, send your supervisor an email to recap what was discussed and give him or her time to consider your request. If your request for a raise is denied, at least the meeting is on record and you can find out what follow-up actions to take or ask for another review in a few months.

Q: Most of us have been working from home for over a year – how do we justify asking for a higher monthly salary?

Paul: The fact that you’re taking on more responsibilities trumps the fact that you haven’t been going into the office. Just because you’re doing your job from home right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a better salary if you are doing more for the company and exceeding the expectations of your role.

Q: How do we prepare our “case” for more pay?

Paul: You could come up with a list of achievements and contributions over the last year to justify a salary review. It’s also good to think about how your job has grown since the pandemic began. Perhaps you are doing the work of two people, are overseeing extra projects or have added more responsibilities to your daily workload. These are some of the stronger reasons to ask for a higher salary.

Q: How do we know how much more to ask for?

Paul: If you’re doing the work of someone who’s one pay grade above you, it’s fair to ask for 15 to 20 per cent more than what you’re currently earning. If it’s two pay grades higher, it’s not unusual to ask for up to 30 per cent more.

Q: Given the sluggish economy and the fact that many companies are still recovering from the financial repercussions of the pandemic, is it the right time to negotiate a pay raise? Should I just wait until the economy rebounds completely?

Paul: Asking for a raise because you’re doing more work should be independent of the state of the economy. Of course, since these are challenging times for many organisations, it’s reasonable to assume that you may not get what you ask for. So, try to manage your expectations.

How do you ask for a pay raise? Share your career tips with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!