You've been on the job for a while — but you haven't had a raise. Look for these six signs it's the right time to ask for one.
In an age where the cost of living rises at an annual rate of roughly two to four percent, most people understandably want their salary to increase as well. If you're unhappy with your compensation — and according to one Payscale survey, most people are, even if they're well-paid — you need to do something about it. Sure, there will be times when you're given a raise without having to ask for it, but if that doesn't happen, you may need to take matters into your own hands.
When asking for a raise, the timing must be right. For example, it would not be beneficial to ask for a raise after your company announces major layoffs or after you receive some not-so-stellar performance feedback. If your timing is off, your manager will likely deny the request and remain closed to the idea of a raise for a while. If you want serious consideration, ask for a raise at the following times.
After you've aced a big project
If you land a major client or close a record-breaking deal, you rightly expect some recognition for your achievement. Recognition may come in the form of an award or congratulations from your manager, a bonus, or even an added responsibility. But if the thing you really want is a raise, then ask for it. You've earned it! A big win or a major accomplishment highlights your value to the organization and will help make your case.
When your company is performing well
When business is good and the prospects for future growth are excellent, company decision makers feel better about investing in the business and employees. If your company just announced a major partnership or quarterly business results that exceeded expectations, it may be a good time to ask for a raise — particularly if your performance has been strong and you can demonstrate that you've contributed to the positive company results.
If you're underpaid
Sometimes a raise feels more like a necessity than a nice-to-have benefit. If you feel you're underpaid, then it's best to speak with your manager or ask HR for advice. Companies have varying amounts of information about the competitiveness of employee compensation: Some rely on anecdotes learned through recruiting efforts, while other companies have detailed survey data that shows competitive compensation for every position in the company. If you think you're underpaid, asking for a raise can lead to a discussion that helps everyone understand if you need a salary adjustment or not, based on company information.
Related: 7 Powerful Ways You Can Improve Your Negotiation Skills
At performance review time
Many companies typically review employee salaries at the same time that they're assessing company and individual performances; you can do the same. If you have an annual review coming up, it's a good idea to approach your manager about a raise ahead of the meeting. That way, you'll have another opportunity to get clarity on your chances of receiving a salary increase when you sit down to discuss your performance.
Also, some companies have a compensation and performance-management calendar, and salary increases may be effective on a certain date every year. If you know that salary increases are effective on March 1, ask about a raise a month or two ahead of that date.
If your job has changed
Moving into a new job or getting promoted often comes with an increase in compensation, but not always. If you received a “dry promotion” — assignment to a higher-level job without an adjustment in pay — then you need to ask for a raise. There's nothing worse than feeling like you're giving extra effort and taking on broader responsibilities but not being paid for it. Like any relationship, the one you have with your company requires a “give and take” balance. If you're in a new job and contributing more, it's fair to ask that your compensation reflect your added responsibilities.
After you've done your research
If you love your company, the people, and the work you do, but your compensation is disappointing, you may be tempted to look at other opportunities. Before you start looking, do some research into what your position's market rate is. Using salary websites, such as Payscale, you can search salaries based on years of experience, geographic location, and more. If you find that you're making less than the market rate for your role, you should have an honest discussion with your manager. Explain what you found in your research, remembering to also showcase the value you bring to the company. Your request may not earn you a raise on the spot, but it may open the door to further conversations about your salary in the future.
Thankfully, there are many ideal times to ask for a raise. If your performance warrants an adjustment to your compensation, then you can and should make a case for an increase. For those times when your company doesn't give you a raise without your asking, you can start the conversation instead.
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