How to ask (strategically) for a raise


It is well known that there is a high rate of unemployment in South Africa, especially among the youth. With such statistics you’d be forgiven for feeling that you need to appreciate your job and current income. Asking for more would just be rocking the boat now, wouldn’t it? But, if you’ve worked hard and you think you deserve it then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask for an increase.

Price hikes, increasing interest rates and other finance concerns may make you want to rush out and ask for more money, but that would be the wrong thing to do. Asking for a raise is one of the most awkward conversations you can have, but here’s how you can ask for a higher salary, strategically, without ruffling any feathers:


It’s important to do your research before asking for a raise. What are other people of your level of expertise, age and industry earning? Your employer will definitely be factoring this in when evaluating whether you need a raise. People generally keep salary information close to their chests, but a new University of Cape Town (UCT) tool has simplified this process and will help you establish if your salary is too low.

The income comparison tool has been developed by UCT’s Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (Saldru). With just a few clicks you can find out where you are in South Africa’s income distribution and how you compare to the rest of the population.

To find out where your salary puts you in the country’s income spectrum visit Saldru. Saldru says the tool is intended for personal use and that it does not collect or save the information submitted.


If things are busy at work or the company is letting people go and going through a financial slump, now may not be the best time to ask for a raise. “Don’t ask for a raise during an especially frantic time, because your boss will be stressed out and distracted. Timing is important,” says Tanya Haffern, wealth coach and author.

At the same time, if the company is doing well, going through an expansion and you’ve performed well, there’s no reason why you can’t ask for one.

“Do ask for a raise just after you have hit a target or achieved something extraordinary at work,” adds Haffern. By asking for a raise just after you’ve shot the lights out or been given more responsibility than you previously had, you can demonstrate why you deserve an increase. You’ll find it harder to argue for one if you’ve just done your job.


The way in which you ask for a raise can be just as important as getting the timing right. You have to make sure that you come across as professional and serious.

“Don’t ask for a raise via WhatsApp or email. Do schedule an appointment and ask face to face. Make sure you dress the part for the meeting,” advises Haffern.


Few things are more nerve-wracking and intimidating than asking for more money from your boss. The last thing you want to do is come across as lacking in confidence. This is where practice makes perfect. “Do prepare your increase request in advance. Ask friends or family if you can pitch it to them to help settle your nerves and to hone your speech.

Don’t get emotional. Money is linked very closely to our feelings of self-worth so talking about it – or the lack thereof – can often trigger strong emotions. Stick to the facts, be calm, clear and confident. If you have worked hard, you deserve an increase,” says Haffern.


Unless you receive exactly what you want, don’t accept the first offer that comes along. Some employers may expect you to come back with a counteroffer but, sadly, many don’t feel comfortable enough to return to the negotiating table. But it’s vital to have a persuasive, carefully planned argument at hand as to why you deserve more than they are offering. Just doing your job is not enough – make sure you have examples at hand to demonstrate where you are doing more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24


Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
Cricket SA is considering replacing Mark Boucher with two coaches, one for red-ball and the other for white-ball responsibilities. Is this a good move?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Love the idea
34% - 39 votes
Hate the idea
35% - 40 votes
They must just be local
31% - 35 votes