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It's never easy to ask an employer to start paying you more money, but when it's time, it's time. Salary bumps rarely appear like magic, and often they only come by way of request – so it's important to know when and how to ask for more money at your job. Make sure you know your employer's status quo, the realities of your job performance and what, exactly, to ask for before initiating that raise conversation.
When to Ask
You may have heard that the one-year mark is rule-of-thumb for when it's appropriate to ask for an increase in salary, but there are plenty of situations that might permit you to request a raise sooner. If you're promoted without a change in salary, for example, it's probably time to ask for one, according to Glassdoor. If you were initially hired for a specific set of responsibilities but ended up taking on a lot more, a raise might be in order.
The right time to ask for a raise depends on your responsibilities, how long you've been in your position and your relationship with your employer, but Human Workplace CEO Liz Ryan wrote in Forbes that three specific situations particularly call for a salary bump:
- When you assume responsibility for a major job that'd be hard to staff, such as when another employee leaves and you absorb their role in addition to yours.
- When you successfully complete a big project, but before you take on another one.
- Three months before your annual review is scheduled.
In other words, it's generally OK to bring up the raise question whenever you're about to take on a big, new responsibility in the workplace, or when you've just had a major success in your job. If you do opt to wait for that one-year mark, consider requesting a raise 12 weeks in advance so your employer can consider and budget for it as needed.
Before the Ask
If you've determined that yes, you'd like to pursue a pay increase, that leaves one massive question: How? A handful of managers spoke with Forbes about what they look for when giving an employee a raise. First, before asking for anything else, employees should ask for feedback, suggested Danielle Harlan, CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential.
"In a non-pushy or self-serving way, have a conversation with your supervisor to let them know that, while your first priority is to excel in your current role, your long-term goal is to advance and that you want to make sure you're doing everything that you can to set yourself up for success," Harlan told Forbes.
Make sure to implement your employer's feedback as you move forward, and take on more responsibilities along the way. As you improve your performance, assume more responsibility and exceed expectations, you'll become more valuable to your company and more objectively deserving of a higher salary. And when it comes time to ask for more money, you'll be able to demonstrate why and how you've earned it.
What to Say
Once you've built up enough leverage for the big ask, focus on how you've moved your company forward and why you deserve a higher salary, not why you need it. Monster CEO Kim Mullaney told Forbes that it's important for employees to demonstrate their impact on their company when asking for a raise.
"Share examples of projects you have completed and how they've positively impacted the business," Mullaney said. "Was there an increase in revenue? Did you save a customer? If you've received positive feedback from colleagues or other leaders regarding your work, be prepared to share that with your manager, as well. These are not only good indicators of your contributions, but also of your future potential."
Before entering that meeting with your boss, make sure to practice your pitch and prepare for questions from your employer, as well. The Cut recommends that you keep the conversation short and sweet – while you should have concrete examples of your success on hand, you shouldn't drone on with a detailed presentation. Make your points succinctly to open up a two-way conversation.
If you successfully negotiated a raise with your boss, make sure to sustain and even exceed your performance levels, as suggested by Glassdoor. Make sure you and your boss both understand any new responsibilities you might be expected to undertake along with your new salary, as well.
In some cases, your raise conversation may not go as you hoped. Your company's budget might just not allow for a raise, or perhaps your boss thinks you still have a way to go. In that case, ask your manager if they will work with you on a plan to move you toward that higher salary in the future. In the meantime, in lieu of a raise, you might request more perks, such as added vacation time, a new title, occasional half-days, flexible time or work-from-home privileges.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.