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5 Prime Times to Ask for a Raise

Topics: Negotiation

When it comes to asking for a raise, timing is everything. If you jump the gun and ask for more money before you’ve earned it, then you may be in for a rude awakening. However, if you wait too long to take the initiative, then you may be mistaken for a complacent worker who doesn’t really care about moving up in the ranks, and you run the risk of getting passed over when it comes to promotions. So, how do you know when the time is right?


(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

  1. When you have a performance review.

Your annual performance review is a great time to negotiate a higher salary, provided your performance was up to par and worthy of a raise. Be conscious of the fact that your boss may be overwhelmed with performance reviews, so if she’s not receptive to your request for a raise during your discussion, then don’t give up hope or take it too personally. It may be more beneficial for you to schedule a meeting with your boss after reviews are complete so that you both can have a more honest discussion about your raise. Chances are, your boss will be grateful for the gesture and your patience.

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  1. When you get a promotion.

What better time to negotiate a raise than when you’re being given more responsibilities and praised for a job well done? You may be thinking, “Don’t all promotions come with a raise?” Unfortunately, not always – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for your career, either. If, by chance, you are offered a promotion and the raise isn’t exactly what you hoped it would be, then now’s the time to negotiate. The great thing about negotiating during a performance review is that the odds are definitely in your favor (as long as your review is a positive one). For instance, your boss is probably already expecting you to come to the table with a number in mind (so you better know what you’re worth), therefore he’ll be more open to negotiating with you.

  1. When you have a tempting and viable outside offer.

It’s probably going to be a bit easier to ask for a raise from your current employer if you have another company trying to lure you away with a competitive offer. However, if this happens, be sure to evaluate whether the temptation to leave your current gig is fueled by money, or if it’s because you feel there’s more opportunity at the new job. Leaving a job strictly for the money may leave you chasing a salary instead of an actual career, so be careful.

  1. When the company is doing well (versus poorly).

Unfortunately, just because you believe you’ve earned a raise, doesn’t necessarily mean your company is in a financial position to afford one. During the Great Recession, for example, you were lucky to even have a job, let alone a decent-paying one. Many people got laid off, took pay decreases, or had to do the work of two or three people due to the tremendous downsizing that occurred, so you can only imagine how greedy one would sound asking for a raise during a time like that. Likewise, if the company isn’t meeting its numbers and is already on a strict budget, then it’s safe to say that asking for a raise is unlikely to result in more cash for you (and might seem downright rude to your manager).

  1. When your skillset increases and/or you’re given more responsibility.

As I mentioned earlier, a great time to ask for a bump in pay is when your skill level increases. This could be in the form of a professional certification, license, and/or degree (e.g. a master’s degree) that allows you to offer more to your company, without them having to hire and train a new individual – in other words, you’re more valuable than before. Likewise, if you’re handed more responsibility (and your company is in a position to offer you more money), then that would be an ideal time to discuss a salary increase for the added responsibility.

Remember, getting a raise is a privilege, not a right. Although you may feel like you deserve a raise, that doesn’t mean you have actually earned one – there’s a big difference between the two. However, if you feel as though you’ve earned a raise, then you’ll want to have all your ducks in a row before you schedule the big meeting. Be sure to check out PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide to help you research, strategize, and negotiate your way to a higher salary. Best of luck!

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Leah Arnold-Smeets
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