When is the Best Time to Ask for a Raise?
If you ask 10 people when is the best time to ask for a raise, you’ll get 10 different answers. So is there really one best time to ask for a raise?
After working 5+ years as a Recruiter, I’m going to share everything I know… including the top signs it’s a good time to ask for a raise (and when to AVOID), so you can make sure to get paid what you’re worth.
Let’s get started…
When to Ask for a Raise:
The best time to ask for a raise is when your work has been going well, your boss is in a good mood, and you’ve been in your current position for at least six months with good performance (and a good performance review or annual review if applicable).
All of those factors will boost your chances of hearing “yes.”
Let’s look at these factors individually below so you can figure out whether it’s a good time for YOU to ask.
Also, I’ll reveal one more “hidden” timing factor that could work to your advantage in certain types of jobs.
Factor #1: Recent Work, Annual Reviews and Other Performance Reviews
First, you always want to ask for a raise when you’ve been performing well in your job (and when you’ve been in your current job for a while. Don’t ask for a raise when you’re new in a role and still learning!)
So look at your 1-2 most recent performance reviews, and last annual review when deciding whether it’s time to ask for a raise. Your chances of hearing “yes” will be much better if you’ve been producing great work for the company.
The more you’re helping them, the more they’ll be willing to pay you! This is a key tactic for HOW to ask for a raise, too, which we’ll discuss at the end of this article.
I asked my network, “When is the best time to ask for a raise?” and most people agreed… the #1 factor is your recent performance. You should be asking when you’ve been doing a great job and getting results for the company…
Factor #2: Boss’s Mood
It’s better to ask for a raise when your boss is calm, relaxed, and in a good mood. So after thinking about how your own work has been going, think about your boss’s own situation. While you can’t always know whether they’re relaxed or stressed, you can observe them and gain clues.
Pay attention to this, and if your boss seems particularly stressed or busy, consider waiting a week or two to ask for that raise.
Factor #3: Tenure in Position & and Time Since Last Raise
This is yet another important factor in when to ask for a raise: You ideally want to have been in your current role for at least 6-12 months.
And it’s best if you haven’t received (or asked for) a raise in the prior 6-12 months, too. If you just received a raise a few months ago, asking again might not be the right move.
Instead, wait for 6-12 months to pass, and plan on asking for a bigger pay increase next time (so that you won’t need to ask again for another year or so if you succeed).
Factor #4: Your Employer’s Reliance on You
I mentioned earlier that as a part of researching for this article, I asked my followers on LinkedIn what they thought was the best time to ask for a raise. And I got an interesting reply:
So this is one more factor you can use to your advantage when you ask for a raise. However – you should never give a threat or ultimatum (or imply one) when you ask for a raise!
You still want to ask in a professional, friendly way and discuss the value you’re bringing to the company, market research you’ve done, and more. That’s the right way to ask for a raise.
But if you follow those tips AND ask when your skills are indispensable and a critical project is about to go live, you can increase your chances of getting the raise you want.
If you ask as a threat or ultimatum, you may get more pay in the short-term but you’ll damage your relationship with your boss in the long-term and maybe even set yourself up to get replaced after the project is done. So don’t threaten when asking!
The Best Time of Year to Ask for a Raise
As mentioned in our article about best times of year to apply to a new job, January and February are when key staff return to the office after the holidays and when companies get their new budgets, so it’s definitely a good time to ask for a raise, too.
However, the time of year isn’t as important when asking for a raise. One of my colleagues on LinkedIn said it best:
The bottom line is – you shouldn’t wait months to ask for a raise simply based on what time of year it is… especially if other factors like a strong annual review or performance review, good results in your recent work, etc., are in your favor.
The Best Time of Day to Ask for a Raise
The best time of day to ask for a raise is 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. You should not ask for a raise before your boss has had a chance to get settled in the morning and catch up on emails, and it’s best to avoid asking at the very end of the day, too.
As long as you pick a time toward the middle of the day, you’ll be fine.
Beyond this, there isn’t one hour that’s best – it really depends on what’s going to make YOU feel confident and relaxed, since that’s going to play a big role in your success when asking for a raise at work.
If you prefer to get it out of the way in the morning, that’s a great option. If you prefer to wait until the afternoon so that there are only a few hours left after you ask, that’s perfectly fine, too.
How to Ask for a Raise at Work
Once you decide to ask for a raise, here are 5 steps you can follow to boost your chances of success:
1. Set up a dedicated time to meet
Tell your boss there’s something you’d like to discuss for 15 or 20 minutes. This is an important topic and deserves its own meeting, so don’t ask for a raise during a regularly-scheduled weekly check-in or other meeting.
You can send an email or stop by your boss’ office and tell them you’d like to set up a time to talk later in the day. If you do this, just make sure you’re ready because there’s a small chance they’ll say, “Why don’t you step into my office and we can talk right now?”
That’s why if I were personally doing it, I’d send an email to schedule the conversation.
I’d send something like this:
Do you have 15-20 minutes available today to talk in private? I was hoping to discuss something with you.
2. Be clear and direct in what you’re asking for
Once the meeting begins, don’t leave your boss guessing. Sit down, thank them for meeting with you, and tell them right away that you were hoping to discuss a potential pay raise.
Then say “because” and dive into specific reasons you deserve a raise. This is a key step, so we’ll cover it next…
3. Back your request up with facts and data
You always want to provide real, business-related reasons why you deserve a raise. (And not personal reasons like, “my commute is long” or “I have a lot of student loans to pay off.”
Here are a couple of ideas for how to make your argument for why you deserve a raise:
- Mention your value to the company and what you’ve been contributing recently. How have you helped them save money, save time, make more money, grow faster, solve problems, etc.
- Mention how you’ve learned/improved since your current salary was decided. If you were hired 1-2 years ago and haven’t received a raise, highlight how much better and more productive you are now.
- Mention any salary research you’ve done. Gather salary data from multiple websites (we recommend Payscale, Salary.com, and LinkedIn’s salary tool) so you can share market averages for your role. Ideally, gather data for your specific city. That way, your boss can’t say, “Well, those are national averages, and we don’t base our local salaries on national figures.”
4. Get what’s fair
Your aim when asking for a raise should always be to get what’s fair for both sides. You aren’t trying to twist your boss’ arm into paying you a ridiculous amount. That’s not a way to build a long-term career or boost your earnings in the long-term.
Aim to make a logical, fact-based argument for why you deserve more, and come to an agreement that’s fair for both sides. You should be well-paid, excited and motivated about the role, and the company should be excited about what they’re getting from you in return.
That brings us to our final tip for how to ask for a raise at work…
5. Always sound excited about your job
When you ask for a raise, you want to show gratitude and appreciation for the job, too.
Tell them you’re excited about how the role’s going, how much you’re learning, etc. You never want to sound like you’re lacking motivation or thinking of leaving. That’s not how to secure a pay increase.
You should also never use threats or ultimatums to ask for a raise. You might get a small raise in the short-term if you’re essential to the team, but they’ll be looking to replace you as soon as they get the chance!
Now you know when to ask for a raise, when NOT to ask for a raise, and how to ask for a raise to boost your chance of success.
Other salary resources:
- Why you should negotiate for base salary and not bonuses
- How to ask for a promotion at work
- How to answer “what is your desired salary” in job applications and interviews