When Should You Ask for a Raise? Timing Is Everything
You are totally ready to claim your raise, and after you’ve done your homework and worked up the courage for the “the ask”, it’s the time to consider how you time your pitch. When you are planning to ask for a salary bump—timing matters.
While there are lots of factors at play that determine if you’re at the stage to get a raise or not, you can at least get time on your side by following these general guidelines:
Don’t ask over the summer.
With vacations and seasonal slowdowns, you’ll be hard pressed to find a time between the 4th of July and Labor Day when the key decision-makers are all in the office at the same time. (However, this can depend on your industry—just keep in mind when the right stakeholders are most likely to be in the office to respond to your request.)
Don’t ask when your company’s in crunch time.
Depending on the industry, the end of the year is often hectic, when higher-ups are reconciling the budget. In financial professions, busy periods might coincide with tax deadlines; in retail, it’s the holiday season. In other words, keep tabs on what’s going on around you, and try not to ask for a raise when tensions are high.
Don’t ask on a Monday, or first thing in the morning.
Think about it—do you like to be hit with a new project request before the caffeine kicks in, or when you’re still in weekend mode? Your manager is probably trying to get focused on his or her week as well, and adding a salary conversation onto their to-do list probably isn’t ideal. Aim for mid-week, or even mid-morning, and you’re more likely to get their full attention.
Don’t ask during a period of struggle.
Use good judgment—if your company just went through a round of layoffs, lost a big client, or the industry you’re in is hurting overall, it may be better to wait it out. Perhaps you can try negotiating for other perks, like extra PTO, or flextime.
Don’t just walk into your manager’s office and ask for a raise.
Make sure you schedule it ahead of time, so they are prepared to meet with you and can give you their full attention.
Do ask for a meeting right after you completed a project.
If you’ve taken on new responsibilities seamlessly, or recently knocked a presentation out of the park, take advantage of that momentum. Managers may agree that adding a few percentage points onto your salary is worth it to keep you happy.
Do ask after you’ve had time to prep your case.
Timing is important, yes, but if your meeting is granted, you’ll need to be ready to make your pitch. Prepare before you ask by keeping notes on what you’ve been up to, including your winning ideas, assignments where you demonstrated grit or resilience, expertise you offer, leadership examples, and problems you’ve solved. Also, share ideas for how you can contribute in the future—after all, you need to show the company what’s in it for them if they’re investing more in you.
Do give yourself a deadline.
If you’ve been putting a salary raise request off because of nerves, draw a line in the sand for yourself—literally, mark a deadline right on your calendar. Use the time leading up to that day to practice what you’ll say, and work up the courage.
Just because you think the time is right for you to get your hard-earned raise doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else’s schedule. Consider the current climate in your workplace, ride the wave of your accomplishments, and exercise patience as needed. Good luck!