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Finding the best time to ask for a pay raise is just as crucial as how you ask for the raise itself. If you ask at the wrong time, you can significantly reduce your chance of getting that pay increase. Here are tips from managers on when to ask for a raise.

The Company Is Doing Well

If the company you work for is doing well, it may be a good time to ask for a raise. This may sound obvious, but it’s not always easy to know when a company is doing well. If your company is hiring, paying bonuses, or expanding offices, it’s usually a good sign that it is financially secure. Some signs may be more subtle and not business related, like providing lunches for all employees. On the other hand, if you notice that there have been recent layoffs or paychecks not clearing, it may not be the best time to ask for a raise.

It’s Been Over A Year Since Your Last Raise

A year is a good amount of time to determine whether you are deserving of a raise. Most employers conduct performance reviews on an annual basis. If you are doing well and meeting or exceeding your goals, and have not received a pay increase in over a year, it is a good time to ask. If you have already received a pay increase within the year, or have just started to work for the company, it’s best to wait.

You Are Not Getting Paid The Market Rate

Most people don’t actually know if they are being paid fairly. No two positions are exactly alike, so you are going to have to do research to determine if you are being paid at or near the market rate. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has an online database that provides the mean salary for over 800 occupations. While this is helpful, it may not be as accurate as other online tools. Glassdoor has a tool called Know Your Worth in which users can search salary information provided by employees. Payscale has a similar tool to search salary data. These tools are a little more useful as you can search similar roles and companies.

You Did Something Great

If you recently did something above and beyond your goals, i.e. landed a couple million dollar clients, you should think about asking for a raise. If you are bringing in business at a rate greater than that expected, any employer is going to want to make sure that you stay on board. Also, if you are working extra hours to pick up the slack for someone else or recently expanded your role to take on additional responsibility, your employer may be willing to compensate you with a bonus or pay increase.

You Were Offered Another Job

Companies do not want to lose their employees, especially ones that add great value. Losing employees is disruptive to the business. Not only can it hurt revenue and growth, but it is also costly to hire a new employee. If you want to stay at your current company you should discuss your offered salary with your manager. While they may not be able to match the new offer, you might be able to negotiate a number in which you are comfortable.

If you asked for a raise and declined one, you should discuss what is expected of you to obtain a pay increase. Set a future date on when to meet again to review your salary. Again, employers do not want to lose their employees. However, it’s not likely that they are going to give a 15% increase. If that is what you are looking for and you won’t be happy with anything else, it may be time to start looking for a new job.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.


Alicia Lillegard, Esq.

Alicia Lillegard has over 20 years of experience in employment law, human resources and insurance, working with with large blue chip companies, startups, and not-for-profit organizations. Ms. Lillegard is currently Managing Director of New England Human Capital, a human resources consultancy which advises small and midsize businesses on Human Resources compliance, including employment procedures, employee relations and employee benefits. She holds degrees from Loyola University Chicago and John Marshall Law School.

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