Asking for a raise is never easy, and the current state of the economy makes it even more nerve-wracking. But asking for a raise that you know you deserve doesn’t have to be as torturous as you might think — especially if the timing is right.
“If your performance and the quantifiable results from your initiatives have exceeded expectations and have resulted in X increase in profits, Y cost savings, Z brand expansion or customer base … then move forward,” says Marshal Backlar, president of Backlar Consultants. “But remember, timing is important: Knowing your company’s culture and climate, and your boss’s mood and confidence, will enable you to choose your time well. Just as important, you must understand and respond to the ‘them’ part of the equation.”
So, assuming that you meet all the requirements of deserving a raise, and you don’t just want one, when you choose to present your case is key. If you needed to borrow money from your parents, for example, you wouldn’t want to ask them right after they’d just shelled out $1,000 toward your tuition, would you? Probably not.
The same principle applies when asking your boss for more money. You can’t just waltz into your boss’s office and say, “Hey, I think I deserve a raise.” You need to plan and prepare for the discussion.
While the most logical time to discuss a raise is during your performance review, it could be beneficial to talk with your supervisor about the issue before your next evaluation rolls around. Especially if you’ve just had a major accomplishment that benefits the company and your annual review is still nine months away. Whatever you do, make sure you tell your boss you’d like to schedule a time to discuss your compensation. The last thing you want to do is catch him or her by surprise, which can often result in defensiveness.
Here are a few opportune times to consider asking for a raise:
- The company just received good news. If the company just got good news, such as landing a new client or signing a $500,000 deal, it might be a good time to broach the topic of a raise — especially if you played a role in the news. If you scored a new client or landed a big deal, you’ll be able to make a strong case regarding your contribution to the company.
- You just completed a major project. If you’ve just successfully completed a major project, it’s a great time to meet with your boss to talk salary. Again, your case will be strengthened by your accomplishment. Just be sure to schedule the meeting at a time when you know he or she won’t be overwhelmed with deadlines.
- You’re given more responsibility or a new position. If you’re doing more in terms of your job duties, it’s only fair that you would be compensated for it. While that seems logical to you, it might not make sense to your boss, so it’s up to you to bring it up if he or she doesn’t. The next time your boss gives you additional responsibility, ask if you can also discuss more money to go along with those duties. Just be sure to give reasons why you think those undertakings deserve a higher compensation.
When not to ask for a raise:
- End of the fiscal year. This is probably one of the worst times to ask for a raise. Why? Most managers are preparing their budgets for the next year or completing finance reports — aka, figuring out how they spent their money — for the past year. Asking for money during this time will stress your manager out and may affect whether or not you get that raise.
- After mass layoffs. If your company recently laid off employees, there’s a pretty good chance that it is struggling and looking for ways to cut cost. That means you’re going to have trouble getting a raise.
- If your company has been hit hard by the economy. Be sensitive to things like how the economy has affected your company or how your company is doing financially. If your company is in the red (or fighting like heck to stay out of it), it’s not likely you’ll get more money, no matter how good you are or how hard you work.
Think you deserve a raise and your timing is right? Check out these articles for tips on how to ask for one the right way: