Building a strong case—a specific goal with good reasons and social proof—isn’t all you need to get a raise. There’s another crucial ingredient: timing.
When you ask is just as important as what you ask for, so here’s how you know when you should ask for a raise.
If everyone gets performance reviews as the same time…
…that’s probably not a good time to ask for a raise.
There’s probably a single budget shared by the entire company. And the company budget is split among departments, and the department budget is split among teams, and your team’s budget is split among your peers.
So your share of that budget is pretty small, and increasing your share would mean shrinking or eliminating someone else’s share of the budget. Most managers aren’t comfortable doing this, and that means it will be very difficult for you to get a bigger-than-typical raise.
If everyone gets reviewed at the same time, ask for a raise about six months from the common performance review cycle. If everyone gets performance reviews in January, you should ask for a raise in July. If everyone gets reviewed in July, you should ask for a raise in January.
That will give you the best chance at getting an exceptional raise when you’re ready to ask for one.
If you get reviewed based on anniversary date or as needed…
This makes things quite a bit easier: If everyone gets reviewed based on anniversary date or as needed, you can ask for a raise when your case is strong enough.
There’s probably not a single budget and “big” raises are likely handled on an individual basis, so you can use your scheduled performance review as an opportunity to ask for a raise.
So when you should ask for a raise?
Ask for a raise when there’s budget available and you can make a strong case that your current salary doesn’t reflect the value you’re adding to the company. You should always be building your case and keeping up with your new responsibilities as you go. That way, you’ll be ready to ask for your raise as soon as there’s budget available.
A real-world example
Now you know how to build your case and ask for a raise at the right time. But wouldn’t it be great to see an example of this process in action?
In the next article, I’ll tell you about how this process helped Shawn get a $17,000 raise with just a couple short conversations.