On a recent post about asking for a raise, one of my readers wondered how soon before you can actually bring up the subject. I thought that was a question worthy of a short post of its own, since there is no simple answer.
But there are some basic guidelines that can help you with your timing. Here’s what you need to know…
General timing for a raise
While there is no absolute rule as to when it might be the right time to ask your boss for a raise, in many companies, as an employee approaches the one year mark, it’s not uncommon for that person (or the boss) to bring up the subject of a raise.
In some companies, there might even be a possible bump up around the 6-month mark, depending on the type of job and special projects you’ve taken on successfully. And if it’s part of some promised salary step-up plan, it could even come more often.
When the subject should come up
When you are offered a job and first negotiate the salary, part of the negotiation (of there is any) would ideally include how often raises are given, when it’s ok to start asking about it, and whether salary increases are automatic or dependent on something you’ve done and / or how the company is doing.
This is especially useful of you can’t get as much as you would like to begin with. You’re laying the groundwork for the next time you can get a boost. The same is true after you’ve been there a while, and have been turned down for a raise or you got less than you wanted. Try to map out the next step and what, if anything, you need to do to insure that it happens.
Some companies have handbooks that outline policies including things like raises, promotions or annual increases. If there is an HR department, you can also approach them. But your best source, even if you have to screw up some courage, is to sit down with your boss and ask. It lets you establish some future milestones.
What if you’ve been there longer than a year?
If you’ve been there for a couple of years without a raise and have never brought up the subject with your boss (nor have they mentioned it to you), then by all means do so. But first, do some preparation work:
And, if the answer is no, find out if there is something you can do to change that to a yes. If the answer is no again, then it’s up to you to decide whether to stay or look elsewhere. (Perhaps the job meets other important needs.) Unless specifically written into a contract or communication between you and the company, there is nothing to guarantee that you will get a raise.
How much value you add to a company is largely up to you, as is how well you communicate that to your boss. (Don’t sit silently and assume they have to be the one to bring it up first.) But a smart boss knows that good people move on without both salary and other concrete displays of appreciation.
So at the very least, it’s worth trying. And don’t forget that an employer who says no to a salary increase (since that compounds as the years go on) might at least be open to a bonus — especially if you can make your case for why you deserve it based on extra projects or accomplishments!
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