A step-by-step guide to increase your earnings when you're underpaid

When you chat to your manager it’s important to start on a positive note (Shutterstock.com)

Asking for more money can be a very awkward conversation if you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Here are a few tips on how to ask for more money.

If you plan to ask for an increase soon , here's what you need to know to prepare. 

Find out who the lucky one is. If you have a job that is difficult to fill due to your specialised skills, you may have more of an advantage. If your company knows that it’s fairly difficult to replace you, and feel that you are valuable to the business, you may have an easier time convincing them to increase your pay. If you can be replaced quite easily you’ll have to present strong points relating to why you should receive an increase.

Do you have a valid reason for wanting an increase? This is the start of your sales pitch. Are you underpaid compared to what others in the market are earning? Do you do more than what is required of you on a regular basis? Do you deliver better results than your colleagues who are earning more money than you? Have you recently acquired new skills and now use it in your job? These are all valid reasons for wanting to review your salary.

Compare: How does your disposable income measure up?

Never be unequipped – provide proof. Just because someone else is earning more than you, doesn’t mean you should too. Do thorough research. Check out salary surveys that focus on similar positions, with your amount of experience, and in the same industry. See how your salary compares. Also think of inflation for example – has the cost of living, transport or interest rates increased quite significantly since you started? Have your newly acquired skills helped the business to grow and increase ROI? Take the figures, along with your other findings, with you to the meeting. That way you’ll be showing your manager proof of why you deserve an increase.

Prepare for the worst. In the event that your manager still doesn’t think you deserve an increase, what will you do? Does the money matter so much that you’re willing to leave the company? Or will you give them a few months to prepare for the increase change? Basically, it boils down to whether you need the increase or want it.

Once you’re prepared, set up a meeting. No one likes to be caught off guard - schedule a meeting with your manager and provide a short description as to what the meeting is about. You'll have their full attention and they'll have an idea of what's coming. 

Watch: Negotiate a higher starting salary

Approach the conversation with a professional attitude. When you chat to your manager it’s important to start on a positive note. Discuss how you enjoy your work and then state how your workload has increased but your salary has not. If your manager asks what grounds you have to ask for an increase, you can then present your research to show that you are in fact serious about the talk and your career. If your manager accepts your findings and says they’ll look into it, give him or her some time before you follow up.

Now for the follow-up. If your manager cannot give you an increase ask why not or what you could do to change their mind. If you feel that their answer is acceptable and you want to wait it out and try for a promotion later, that’s your choice. If not, there are 1000s of jobs on Careers24 – and one of them may be your dream job.