How to ask for a pay rise

If you have been in a role for a long time and are over 45, chances are you may not be getting paid what you are worth or offered other benefits.   Knowing your worth is the first part of navigating how to ask for a pay rise.

Earlier this year I was interviewed on Nova’s FIVEaa Radio with Jade Robran discussing how to ask for a pay rise and negotiating your worth.    It’s a topic comes up a lot and it’s a difficult one to manage. 

This was on the back of recent research which revealed concerning ageism biases towards workers 45+.  Salary increases and other training and development benefits are favouring those under 45. It’s ageism 101!

In the Randstad’s Australian Workmonitor 2022it’s shown that it’s not just pay that’s an issue for older workers, but training & development also.

“Thirty-six per cent of Gen Z and 27 per cent of Young Millennials enjoyed chances to learn at work over the last year. But only 17 per cent of Gen X and 11 per cent of Baby Boomers had the same privilege”.

I have now transcribed the 8 min interview and there are many golden nuggets and reflections to consider. 

The strategies and attitude approaches are not just valuable for employees but transferrable to consultants and freelancers also.  And it will support and guide professionals and executives as they enter the job search eco-system.

Here is the radio interview and following is the full transcript.


JR: Have you ever asked for a pay rise? Well, it’s time you do. Because your younger workers are. And they’re getting what they want. It’s a tough conversation to have.

For some, I get that others can just whisk on in to their boss’s office and just come out and say, Hey, I’m really good. I deserve a pay rise. Please give it to me.

I’ve never been that person. I always find it a bit of an awkward conversation, but new research shows that younger workers are getting a better deal when it comes to pay and upskilling.

So is it discrimination or is it that they simply ask for it and ask older workers don’t. Let’s talk to career strategist Sue Parker, who joins us. Sue, great to have you on the program. Good afternoon.

SUE:  Hello Jade. Thanks for inviting me on to talk about, as you say, this rather awkward topic at times.

JR: It can be. But is it discrimination or is it simply that we are just not asking?

SUE: You cannot blanket a whole generation under one trait.

But I do observe very clearly that there is a sense of acquiescence, not wanting to rock the boat. A lot of fear.

And when people operate from a platform of fear and hesitation, they’re not asking and holding ground for what they deserve.

And that does tend to amplify when people are starting to get in the 45-50 plus workplace market.

I do observe that they are frightened to create a stink. They’re frightened to come out and hold their worth. And women particularly.

You know, we teach people how to treat us and we’ve been very compliant, non-demanding and not requesting what’s deserved and fair.

JR:  And so is it partly the rejection side of it? Because if you’re rejected, you kind of take it on that, Oh, I’m not good enough. Maybe, maybe I’m not as clever and valuable as I thought I was.

SUE:  It can be.

So before you go in and ask for a pay rise or training, (because the research that’s come out has been very much that over 45 get lower salary increases in comparison ) you need to know your worth.

And knowing the reasons and benefits of your worth. I always say in my work that it’s about putting a marketing mindset to your request and your pitch.

It’s like pitching to radio, pitching to TV. You’re putting a story around it and the benefits and the value of that.

So you’ve got to be really, really, really clear on who you are, what your value is, what the market rate and expectations are, and hold your nerve.

It’s about how go about something, not just what you do and what you’re asking for, but how you do it.

So it’s taking a really strong self-worth perspective to that fair request.

JR: So how do you even begin if you’re keeping yourself up at night and you’re getting really annoyed and frustrated, what’s the first step?

SUE: Oh, first step is to take a glass of wine.

JR:  I like you

SUE:   Ha, or a scotch. I think that’s evident and calming eh

Look it’s getting a sense of equilibrium back in your in your body.

We teach people how to treat us and it really is a case of who are you, what have you done.

I have a saying Jade that ‘reality statements are not value judgements’.

That’s a really good place for people to start when they’re up at night drinking that wine as you reflect on your value.

Have you done something in your career? Have you achieved it? It’s either yes or no. There’s no maybe about it.

And that’s not a value judgement. It’s a reality statement.

So the first place you should start is making a list of all those reality statements and all your achievements.

There will be a list of those and, you know, be really, really clear on that as you drink your glass of wine and you’re writing them all down. 

Then review how that then benefits the business and how your knowledge will benefit long longer going from where you are now as well.

JR: And then do you just simply flick the boss an email saying, Hey, can we schedule a meeting? Can I have a chat?

SUE:   Yeah, look, I think there’s many options as there’s no one size fits all.

Every workplace is different. Every manager is different. The other thing to consider is how long you’ve been in that role.

What I observe is it’s like a bad relationship. Things don’t get better unless something drastic happens.

So you need to sort of go back and think, ‘well, what’s been the communication and relationship like? How long have I been in that role?

And whether that talk might be an email or a phone call, whatever that is relevant to that communication style.

But you need to go in with absolute clarity of your value and what the market rate is for that value.

And again, that’s all reality. That’s not opinion stuff.

The research also is that as people over 45 aren’t getting the same amount of training opportunities. Well that’s a silly workplace and productivity demise for businesses.

So again, it’s all about a marketing mindset. Just because you’re an employee don’t forget you have so much to offer, and especially with a lot of experience over 45 and 50 which is valuable.

It’s about positioning that and then giving consequences because if you are totally underpaid, which a lot of people are and they haven’t kicked up a stink and they’ve been on the same salary band for maybe five years, which is true, It happens.

You need to actually give some consequences around that and you actually have to communicate that, hey, this is what is reasonable, this is what I do, this is what I bring, this is what the value is to your business.

I’m not a doormat. If that can’t be met, I might start needing to look at somewhere else.

I’m not trying to bribe you, but this is the consequence of your actions as any business would have for any of their actions.

JR:   I like it. Be tough. And if you don’t get what you ask for, I mean, like you said, should you just back yourself in and start looking for another job? Does that build your confidence?

SUE:    Well, it’s interesting you say that because in this year, particularly with so many changes that are happening, we’re going past the candidate rich market and things are moving across more to less jobs and more people looking.

You always need to have a profile of your career anyhow as a fall back. It’s like risk management, like insurance policies always have a fall back. But you know, people will often whinge about a business. They’ll complain.

And this is one of the big issues about teaching people how to treat us.

And it’s in the workplace. All the whinging in the world without actions and consequences of no value.

So again, it’s really giving that consequence whether you should be looking for another job, I mean, that’s your decision.

Some people can’t just quit and go, but you need to take a holistic approach.

What you find, though, generally and what I’ve observed over the years, is people who are underpaid for what they do and the value they bring, there’s also other workplace abuses as well. It’s not just a solo issue.

This is my observation. It’s not just a singular abuse. There’s often other things. And so people then often get what we call Corporate Stockholm Syndrome.

They’re frightened to leave. They’re whinging about their pay, they’re whinging about their conditions, but they feel polarised to move.

So often it’s worthwhile getting an outsider bit of some support as well around those things to help you move.

JR:  Good advice. So thanks so much for joining us.

SUE: Thank you. I hope it helps your listeners.

JR:   Absolutely. I’m sure most of them will be going home tonight writing a list about how awesome they are over a glass of wine.  Perfect. Love it. Thank you very much. That is Sue Parker, career strategist.


For further information on Corporate Stockholm Syndrome that I spoke of in the interview, read  my media article The psychology of staying and leaving jobs HERE

Need support in your job search, career change or how to navigate issues in your current role? 

Check out all my services and programs HERE.



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