The 7 Best Times to Ask for a Pay Raise

When to ask for pay raise

When’s the best time to ask for a pay raise?

I used to believe it’s when:

  • you’ve had a good annual review
  • the company’s had a great year
  • you’ve achieved a length-of-service milestone like a 5 or 10-year anniversary

While these certainly can work out, it “pays” to be much more strategic in your approach.

Timing is Everything when Asking for a Pay Raise

Carl Lewis, who won 10 Olympic Gold Medals, said…

“Life is about Timing”…and this happens to apply beautifully to asking for a pay raise.

Ask at the right time and you’ll be rewarded with an open conversation about your compensation and maybe even get the pay raise you want. Ask at the wrong time and maybe you’ll get a blank stare,  a “let’s talk about this later”, or just a flat “No”.

The right conversation at the wrong time, becomes the wrong conversation.

So if getting a raise is more about timing than anything else, then consider initiating it in one of these moments…

The 7 Best Times to Bring up the Raise Conversation with Your Boss

  1. The “Promotion” – It’s a great time to talk about a raise when you know you’re getting one already.  For example, when you get a promotion with more responsibility open the discussion around an additional raise and request information on what your future raise potential is in store for the new role.
  2. The “Needle Mover” – This is when your results on a project have been big enough to noticeably impact your organization’s bottom-line.  This is the kind of  “needle mover” that’s a golden opportunity to discuss a raise.
  3. The “Glitz” –  Some wins may not impact the bottom-line directly but do generate lots of glitz and visibility at higher levels of the organization.  This could be delivering on your boss’ special project, leading an outreach project with a non profit, or providing positive media attention.
  4. The “Scope Creep” – This is when you’ve increased the scope of your responsibilities but not your job title.  This opportunity frequently occurs when a team member leaves for another job and your boss asks you to step in and take over their responsibilities.
  5. The “Department Change “ – Another good time to bring up a pay raise is when you transition to another department.  You see, your new department is benefiting because they aren’t having to go outside the company to hire. This can be a major win for your new department because you’ll be working at full speed much faster than an external higher plus there’s a lot less risk involved because you’re a proven entity in the organization 🙂
  6. The “Leverage” –  When you’ve got leverage its usually time to have the pay raise conversation.  This applies when you’re seriously considering a job at another organization and you’ve got little to lose by asking for a raise.
  7. The “Advance” (the most overlooked) –  The biggest raises often happen when you change companies.  Take this pay raise strategy to the next level by asking for your next raise in advance of starting at your new job. Try requesting a guaranteed pay increase based upon your first year’s performance.

While asking for a pay raise doesn’t guarantee one, it often increases the probability.  Sometimes just “planting the seed” in a conversation with your boss can lead to one down the road.

So when’s a time you thought you deserved a pay raise but didn’t get it?  How did you handle it? Share in the comments below.


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Comments and questions from the Podcast come from John E Smith, CEO and Chief Evangelist at Break the Equation and David Ducheyne, Chief People Officer at Securex.