The Best and Worst Times to Ask for a Raise

My kids often negotiate with each other to ask me for more video game time or if we can have a movie night. I usually give in to both requests (especially if movie night involves pizza), but their hesitation comes from knowing that asking the right question at the wrong time can result in a negative outcome.

The same goes when broaching the subject of a raise. Even if you know you deserve it, waiting for the right time to ask could be the difference between abandoning the conversation and improving your personal finances or not. Here are some of the best and worst times to do it.

Best time: When your original job changes

One of the best times to ask for a raise is when you receive significant additional responsibilities.

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This can happen after being promoted to manager or after supervising more people than when you started. Or, it may come after you've been tasked with a large project that expands the scope of your previous responsibilities.

Hardworking employees are often given more responsibilities. So it's likely that your boss already considers you a good employee if you're in charge of more people and projects. It's to your advantage when you ask for a raise.

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How to do: Talk about your new responsibilities and how you accomplished them all. Data is your friend here. Don't just list your new tasks; show how you hit home runs (or at least a few doubles) with each of them.

Good time: when you have succeeded in your work and can prove it

Another good time to ask for a raise is when you've been at your job for a while and can prove to your boss that you provide a lot of value.

Maybe you sold more services than any other member of your sales team in the past year, or you convinced several large clients to stay with your company when they were considering leaving. Whatever your work, find the hard data that shows your accomplishments.

If you can show that you're increasing your company's revenue, expanding its client list, increasing your website conversions, etc., then it might be a good time to set up a meeting and ask for a raise.

How to do: The general rule here is show, not tell. Don't just tell your manager everything you've been working on. Show your boss how you met all your work goals and went above and beyond your expectations.

Rather a good time: when the company is doing well

Even if you have more responsibilities and exceed all your goals, you're unlikely to get a raise if the company doesn't have the money. But if your company just had a fantastic quarter or a good year financially, now might be a good time to talk to your boss about your salary.

Keep in mind that your main argument for asking for a raise I should not or that the company is doing well. You still have to prove why you deserve it. But by asking when the company coffers are full, it's more likely you'll be able to see more money in your checking account come payday.

How to do: Ask for a raise a few months before the start of the fiscal year. Even if your business has had a good year, ask After the budget is set could derail your chances of getting the raise.

Bad timing: when crunch time comes on a major project

Even though you manage more people, have more responsibilities, and the business is doing well, you still need to be careful about your timing.

For example, if your team or the company is in the middle of a big project or if your team is working hard to launch a new service, it's probably not the right time to ask for a higher salary.

A better approach: Wait until the project is finished or the product launches, then ask. You don't want to be denied a raise just because your boss was stressed when you asked.

Bad timing: You just decided it's time to get a raise

While it may seem logical to ask for a raise because you've been with the company for years, that's not a good enough reason to get one.

You may deserve a raise because of your accomplishments, and it's reasonable to expect some sort of pay increase the longer you work. But walking into your boss's office and demanding a pay raise because you've been in your position for a few years isn't the best strategy.

A better approach: Instead, explain how you have added value to the company over these years and how your responsibilities have expanded. Give specific examples and evidence to convince your boss that your hard work should be rewarded.

And remember, almost everyone feels embarrassed asking for a raise. But choosing the right time and being prepared with the reasons why you deserve it will make the conversation go smoother.

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