Katharine S. Brooks, executive director of the Office of Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University, says there are a few “right times” to ask for a raise. They are:
When business is good.
“Try to approach your boss when business is flourishing if at all possible, not following a company layoff or right after a few clients end their relationship with the company,” says Whitmore.
Brooks agrees, saying you should only ask at a time when the fiscal state of your organisation is strong (or improving). “If the company is doing well, and presents a strong quarterly report, there may be more funds available to pay employees,” she says. “But do remember, if this is the first good fiscal news after a long drought, the company might have debt or other financial issues it has to fix first.”
After a large donation or grant-funding.
If your employer suddenly has more money, sometimes it can be moved around to support specific offices or units, Brooks explains. “Find out if a donation or grant benefits your office and whether funds can be made available for employees — either as a raise or even perhaps to develop a new project.”
A few months before your annual review.
Whitmore says the best time to ask for a raise is three to four months before your annual review. “That’s when most budgets are being decided,” she says.
If you’re not able to ask beforehand, during or immediately after your review will work, too.
“If you receive a strong annual review, this is a good time to ask if additional compensation is possible,” says Brooks. “You should be prepared to describe how you have helped the organisation over the previous year. If you can show monetary gains tied to what you do, that is the strongest argument.”
Remember that your supervisor probably has to convince someone else, so give them lots of concrete information to do that. “This would also be a good time to have a discussion about a title change if that is needed to get the raise.”
After you have completed a particularly challenging or important project.
Brooks says you are more likely to be considered for a raise because of the work you do, so performing well on a difficult task or a big project is one way to provide support for your argument.
“You may also request a raise when you have been asked to take on additional responsibilities that do not fall under your job description,” adds Whitmore.
When you discover that you are earning significantly less than others in the same role.
You should periodically do some research to find out how much others in your industry or job position are making, says Whitmore. And if at any point you realise that you’re being unfairly underpaid, it may be time to request a raise.
Of course you’ll still need to prove your value and bring concrete evidence — but this is one way to initiate the conversation: “I recently came across a study/article that said others in my position with similar levels of experience and education are making X. Because I’ve accomplished ABC recently, I think I deserve to be compensated at least at that level.”
“Because timing is so important, it’s also important to know when not to ask,” says Brooks. “You shouldn’t ask for a raise when it’s obvious that the company is in financial trouble (unless you have the solution) or when you can see that your supervisor is busy, distracted, or distressed about something.
“Schedule an appointment for the discussion,” she continues, “and be prepared to cancel it if it seems like the ‘climate’ isn’t right that day due to an unexpected event or news.”
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