'Tis the Season… to Ask for a Raise

two coworkers having discussion at desk

Are you reluctant to bring up a salary increase over the holiday season? Don’t be! In fact, the holidays are an excellent time to ask your employer for a promotion, and here’s why…

If you feel you're overdue for a salary increase, a new job title, or more perks and benefits at work, consider raising your inquiry before the New Year, when many organizations are making final adjustments to their new budgets and doing final reviews. From an employer’s standpoint, the holidays also set a kind of invisible deadline by which they want to leave things settled or “wrapped up,” so making your ask before the break might ensure your request gets top priority so your employer can finalize budgets before the New Year rolls around.

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From an employee’s point of view, the holidays or the end of the year are a great time to ask for a raise because you’re likely wrapping up some of your projects or workload, so you may have some impressive results or talking points to use as leverage in your negotiations. Also, you can reference your accomplishments in the year behind you and point to all of the successes or gains you’ve achieved.

What’s more, some employers may be feeling a little more festive or generous during the season, so it’s a great time to take advantage of this holiday spirit and see that it works in your favor.

When you’re planning how to approach your boss to discuss a raise or a promotion over the holidays, there are a few actions or behaviors you’ll want to avoid, though, in order to increase your chances of getting the result you want:

  • Don’t corner your boss at a holiday party and pressure them for a raise. This can make them uncomfortable because it’s inappropriate – wrong time, wrong place – and can backfire on you.
  • Don’t be vague. This is one of the most important points to consider when you’re negotiating with an employer. You want to be specific about exactly what you’re asking for, as well as why you have earned it. Be prepared to cite very specific examples of your work or goals you’ve reached that justify the increase you’re asking for.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your colleagues when you’re negotiating. This doesn’t position you as a positive collaborator or a team player, but instead makes you look resentful and petty. In general, don’t tie your salary and benefits to the work that others do; instead, rely on the contributions that you make to the organization to make your case with your employer.
  • Don’t be unreasonable in your ask. If the standard salary range for your position in the marketplace is between 75k-85k per year, don’t approach your boss asking for an annual salary of 165k per year (certainly not without clear, justifiable reason for such a huge increase or deviation from the market standard). Making unreasonable requests will only undermine the negotiations in general. While it’s alright to overshoot a little, making a wildly unrealistic or completely non-standard request could, in the end, backfire and leave you with little to no increase (and even a little less respect from your boss).
  • Don’t be taken advantage of. In the same way that you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations around your earning potential for your current role, so too should your employer provide you with a realistic compensation and benefits package that aligns with the value you bring to the organization and also meets or exceeds market standards. If you keep getting turned down for raises or promotions that you know you’re long overdue for, 2019 may be the year you find a new employer, one who is more willing to see your contributions, your professional future as an investment worth making.

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