Timing is Everything: When is the Best Time to Ask for a Raise?
This guide can help you decide the best time to ask for a raise.
It’s easy to find advice on how to have a conversation about money with your boss. Salary negotiating is a sort of professional artform that the most experienced professionals sometimes need a little bit of help with. But, this sort of advice is commonplace and tends to focus on the same principles (know what you want, know how to make your case that you deserve it, and know what you’re prepared to do if you don’t get it).
But, one of the more forgotten (but important!) aspects of salary negotiations is “timing,” and knowing not just what to say to your boss so they agree to increase your pay, but when to bring up the subject? What can be the best time to ask for a raise so that conditions are most favorable for your request.
Best Time To Ask For A Raise
If you’ve been thinking about asking for a salary increase, here are some of the best times to approach your boss and make your case so that she or he will be more inclined to approve your request:
After a big win
As Karen Wong recently put it in this NYT piece, “If you’ve recently scored a big work accomplishment or finished a successful project, use that milestone to make the case for your raise.” It can turn out to be the best time to ask for a raise and chances are high that you also get acceptance of it. Employers will be more inclined to reward you with a larger salary if your ask immediately follows a great contribution you’ve made or win you’ve had. Perhaps you’ve worked on a project that’s increased the company’s revenue or figured out a way to save some money. In this instance, your salary negotiations will be solely performance-based on one or two very specific wins, so make sure that they’re impactful enough to warrant an increase.
If your job description or title has changed
Perhaps you’ve recently been asked to take on more responsibility or move into a leadership position. Or, your role and job description have expanded to include additional tasks and projects. Maybe you’ve been given a new title or “leveled up” to the next title in your career path. Sometimes these milestones are accompanied by a pay increase, but oftentimes you find more work falling on your plate with no discussion of pay. Take advantage of this important time to ask that your salary reflect your new, expanded duties, but take care not to wait too long to have the conversation. If your boss has enough confidence in you to bring more responsibility your way, they’ll be more likely to consider a new salary that shows just how much they value your contributions.
Your annual review (or even a few months before)
Annual reviews or regular check-ins are the standard times when most employees and employers bring up the subject of compensation. If you haven’t experienced any big change in your role or made any outstanding contributions to the company, then this is likely the best time to ask for a raise. However, bringing up the subject a few months ahead of your review can also be an effective way to negotiate because it gives them a chance to consider your salary outside of the normal annual pay increase they already expect to give. So, if you want to negotiate a higher than normal increase, you probably want to have the discussion some time ahead of your review.
After your boss gets back from vacation
Well, not literally… but the idea here is to approach your boss at a good time for them. If they’re in ‘crisis mode’ trying to put out multiple fires on a particular day or week, you may want to wait for a less chaotic, more calm time to have a thorough (and not hurried) discussion of your performance and the value you bring to the company. In general, be considerate and aware of what’s going on in their world, and if you see that they’re unusually busy or stressed out, hold off for a few days until they have the time and energy to have a thoughtful discussion with you.
Therefore, always wait for the best time to ask for a raise from your boss otherwise bad timing can result in a bad impression.