Ask For A Raise At The Right Time

Personal finance blog Free Money Finance suggests that employees can improve their incomes by asking for a raise, but you have to make sure to time it right.

“Timing is everything in business,” says Lorenzo, author of Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs. If the company and industry are doing poorly, it may not be the best time to ask for more money. But if business is booming, especially if you’ve played a key role in the company’s success, make your move. Special opportunities can provide a natural springboard for a raise: after you’ve received an award, saved significant money for the firm, or agreed to take on additional responsibility. Finally, consider the corporate calendar; you may get better results if you ask while the next year’s budget is being developed.

One major point to make — the key to asking for a raise is noted in the first sentence: you must deserve it. Otherwise, all the asking/begging/pleading in the world will likely fall on deaf ears. Check the blog post for more steps to asking for a raise and details on each one.

How to Ask for a Raise [Free Money Finance]

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. I always wait till right after the guy notices the camera flash, or after I get delivery confirmation of the copies I sent him. Never fails.

  2. LogicalOne says:

    Ask for a raise?! This is so-o-o 1950’s. Asking for a raise these days may only work in a small to medium sized company. For larger companies, the bureaucratic budget rules commonly put in place constrain managers to only tiny increases, if any. I’d say 4 percent would probably be the top raise allowed to most managers, and only to a single individual. Everyone else in a department might get 1 – 2 percent.

    Don’t expect more than the yearly rate of inflation, in any case.

  3. DarthSensei says:

    I have to agree with Logical. The only way to increase wages in this economy is to job hop.

  4. consumersaur says:

    @LogicalOne: Yeah. Whatever you do, don’t show any career initiative, bosses hate that, especially when you approach them with a well-founded case for your importance at a business and a discussion about increasing your job value as you increase the company’s worth.

    Ask any business leader, industrialist, entrepreneur, etc… This is key to getting ahead.

    It’s not doing good work and taking bold moves, but waiting for the corporate bureaucracy to bestow you with its approximation of your worth.

  5. atypicalxian says:

    @LogicalOne: Good point. I can’t think of any company I’ve worked for where you asked for a raise. You waited until you’re annual increase, which is like you said, usually 1-4 percent.

  6. vdragonmpc says:

    Logical has a perfect point. Many companies are total TOOLS about compensation… I learned an important lesson and I use it a lot. Whatever you are offered at hire is generally what you will get for a LONG time as a lot of companies give 3.5% raises as a rule. 3.5 is almost nothing compared to the increases we are seeing in costs.

    I worked for a school that was horrific in compensation. They
    were so tight they made teachers clock out if they had an hour between classes (adult college) so if you arrived in the evening to teach from 6-10pm and only had 3 classes (hours) thats what you were paid so you sat from 8-9pm waiting and if a student asked for help you were expected to assist for zero pay. I loved the tutoring pay also they got out of paying that every time.

    Did I mention that most teachers were horrifically under qualified? They hired a few skilled people to cover for the insane employee hiring and fudging of books that went on.

    5 years and the best raise I got was when I left for another job and they re-hired me part time for what I was making full time!!! ka wa ching! baby…

    (It does help to be the person that designed and maintained their systems for 5 years and no one seemed to care to learn anything about my duties until I left OOOOOPS!)

  7. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    In corporations I’ve worked in the salary budget is top down and a fixed pie. The company has an annual budget, your division gets a cut of that, your department gets a cut of that and your boss is left with $x to split among his workers. If he gives you a big raise he has less to allocate to your peers. Other than finding another job in the company the only way to get a bigger piece of the pie is to make your boss look good. Working harder and meeting targets doesn’t cut it. Focus on making your boss look good.

    “Ask for a raise.” ROTFLMAO.

  8. Corydon says:

    Even in a big corporation, there’s wiggle room. You just have to go about it the right way. Always talk about compensation behind closed doors. Pay attention to when the COLA increases come out and bring up the topic a few months in advance. Don’t harp on it. But don’t be scared to bring it up either.

    And if you do ask for more money, make sure you can justify the increase.

  9. Notsewfast says:


    LogicalOne Had it. In most industries (save for smaller businesses) asking for a raise will get you nothing. Earning a promotion is the real way to hike your pay. I work in the investment industry and outside of the commission-only game (which i left because people were so full of crap it was dizzying) the only real way to stay in the corporate structure and make more money is to get a title change (AVP to SVP for example).

    Realizing that this is the nature of the business, I have been working with a couple of colleges to start a commercial REIT. My logic is that there is so much money to be made in the investment field that only the lazy or apathetic stick around to earn $150-200k their whole lives.

  10. ericblair says:

    Yeah, the whole concept is pretty funny in an organization of more than a couple of people. “A raise? Sure! Just let me tap this totally unused pot of money over here without any written justification!” The best your boss can usually do is wangle you into a different job category to improve your position in the next review cycle.

    In our industry, you can get a market value assessment raise, where you prove that you’re being underpaid. To do this, you’ll basically have to get a written offer from another company with the salary level attached. In other words, basically get another job and reject it. I’ve never seen it done, except someone comparing their salary to a Federal government one that you can look up on a chart.

  11. Notsewfast says:

    @Secret Agent Man:
    I have been working with Colleagues, not Colleges.

  12. TheSeeker says:

    I have found that asking for a raise, when you actually deserve one, when a large company purchase is being considered is a good time. They can’t come back with the “we don’t have the money” answer then.

    It has worked for me.

  13. Parapraxis says:

    I got a HUGE raise after I had done a great job for the business, that no one had tried to do in a long time. I was very happy with the money.

    my job? I cleaned out the slurpee machine two nights in a row.

    *hold your applause, please*

  14. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    Big companies do generally have some type of raise schedule, but you might be surprised that because they are so big some HR people can actually succeed in convincing someone somewhere that a program needs to be put in place to retain key talent. My company laid off 20% of the employees and then 3 months later gave big raises to many of the people left. This was several years ago, but I’m sure that this didn’t happen without some greater HR directive.

  15. humphrmi says:

    I’m with the others on this one, from my own experience even big companies with set schedules can deviate when a good case is made. The bottom line is, if you’re valuable to the organization they aren’t going to risk losing you just because it’s March and not November. But don’t ever threaten… just make your case.

    Also, here’s a tip – I have used those customized salary surveys you can get online with a lot of success. If you can prove that you are way under your peer group in the industry, you have a better chance.

    Lastly, don’t make it all about money. When you talk to your boss, stress the good points of your job – responsibility, projects that interest you, perks & benefits, etc. Let him or her know that you appreciate these other aspects of your job, and that the only thing you wish you could change – and what would make the job perfect – is a salary adjustment to bring you better in line with your peers.

  16. Benny Gesserit says:

    @DarthSensei: Which is a real shame. In our IT shop, we have quite a few hard-core programmers who’s only option has been to hop into analysis to get a raise.

    Trouble is, they’re dreadful analysts.

  17. bobbleheadr says:

    @Secret Agent Man: Oh, aren’t you such an internet big shot…

  18. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @consumersaur: This is good advice or sarcasm depending on where you work.

  19. hmk says:

    I work for a small company and my bosses are such giant cheapskates that most people not only NEVER get raises, even for cost of living, but some people have even gotten pay CUTS in the past. Apparently everyone who works there is a masochist. They’ll give raises to a few people, mostly the newer employees (like me), y’know, to suck them in. I can see my future with this company and it is not bright.

  20. Mykro says:

    I work for an airline, and us parts people just got a 16% raise :D
    On top of that, my yearly review is coming up, and they just raised everyone’s review raise to a flat $.50 :)

  21. Skankingmike says:

    I work for a subsidiary of a large company. The subsidiaries pay raises are yearly and consist of 3%, and then top performers get 5% or 10% depending if there is more than one.

    So asking for a pay raise is not gonna happen. Which I’d imagine any company these days is not gonna happen. You want a pay raise change jobs thats the new pay raise.

  22. Lucky225 says:

    Why is it I can ask my Credit Card company for a limit increase no problem, but asking for a raise at your job is such a big deal. I mean if you’re working at-will hourly wage, you should be able to ask for an increase in your wage if you have good attendance, work ethic, etc.., I mean these kind of jobs have high turn-around rate anyways, you would think you could save money by increasing that one employee’s wage who always gets to work no matter what and does their job.

  23. iheartconsumerist says:

    I’ve worked for a bunch of small, medium and large companies and have never had a problem getting a raise. I think the keys to getting what you are after are doing EXCEPTIONAL work, having a realistic salary expectation with supporting documentation, making a clear case of why you deserve a raise, and most importantly being willing to walk away. Most companies understand that if they lose a valuable employee, it is going to cost them.. If they hire someone new and have to spend 2 months training the new person, that is equivalent to a giving you a decent raise. Add in the fact that good employees are hard to find, and there is no gaurantee your new replacement will work out – It most cases it just makes business sense to give you a raise and get back to business. Obviously some businesses aren’t run well and don’t realize its in their best interest to keep good employees happy – In those instances why would you want to work for them anyway. Like I said be ready to walk away, companies these days have no loyalty to you, so you have to look out for your best interests.

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    Aside from just coming out and asking, the best time to PUSH for a raise is at your review.

    Here’s a helpful tip to bolster your position: Print and save every “Nice job!”, “Great work on that!”, “Thanks for helping me out of a bind!” and any other Kudos emails you receive and save them in a folder. When your review comes around, you’ll have a handy stack of documented accomplishments throughout the year, with praise from your co-workers (and perhaps people higher than your boss), that’s unsolicited and hard to refute.

    Don’t leave the onus of evaluating your performance on your manager, who also has several of your peers to evaluate. Even if he has the time, he won’t give you the attention you deserve in this area.

  25. MercuryPDX says:

    @iheartconsumerist: Like I said be ready to walk away, companies these days have no loyalty to you, so you have to look out for your best interests.

    Sad but true. Don’t ever play the “Do this or I walk” card unless you’re prepared to follow through when your wishes are denied. You put a severe hurt on your credibility.

  26. vdragonmpc says:

    Mercury is right also.

    What people forget is that the company management usually feels like employees fall out of the sky. Many dont care if they are even good employees. My current company treats me like gold and rewards us for good work..

    Most others were awful about compensation. I worked for a school and you had to fight like Tyson to even get considered for a raise while they would kiss the wallet of some new hires. Even trying to get a pay increase after hire during the interview is a roll of the dice in some fields. I did some work for a small government contractor and they promised a pay increase after my probation period and review. Well once the project was completed they “forgot” the increase. Glowing reviews do not pay for gas.

    Whats sad is the meeting where you are being ‘exit interviewed’ and the management or owner has no idea why you are leaving such a wonderful company! I have reminded these folks in 4 occasions that we had discussed my salary and it was always put off and forgotten. Now another company is getting the opportunity to benefit from my skills. (Having the medical coverage SUCK doesnt help the old employers argument either it just shows how little they care)

    If you are really good and were an asset you may get introduced to a lucrative field called consultant or contractor… I was rehired many times as an outside employee for far more than I was paid working for the company. Good times and you put up with less crap.


  27. rochec says:

    I just gave myself a 34% raise. Granted the company is losing money by the second and we’ll probably be out of business by this time next year, but as a CEO I don’t know what else to do.

  28. wiggatron says:

    Is it just me or is this the most “duh” advice I’ve heard today? If you couldn’t figure this out, then you probably have no business asking for a raise in the first place, and you should probably get back to mopping the floor in the executive bathroom before you get yelled at.