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When is the Right Time to Ask for a Raise?

If your experience with year-end compensation is anything like the clients I’ve spoken to this quarter, you are most likely in the disappointed or disillusioned camp when it comes to your salary. The economy may be improving from a macro/global level, but locally you may be stuck with stagnant pay. Asking for a raise may sound out of the question but if you truly exceeded expectations, delivered results/profits/new business, and demonstrated value as an employee and didn’t get paid commensurately to your contribution, you should ask for a raise. When is the best time? Here are three tips.


The Right Time to Ask for a Raise (Photo: iStockphoto)

Mid-year review
Yes, mid-year reviews are coming up for many New York professionals. If you felt inadequately compensated for last year’s performance, your formal mid-year review is an appropriate forum to discuss the terms of ongoing employment. Do your research and due diligence before the meeting; present your manager with facts and figures highlighting why the work you are doing requires a higher salary or at minimum an increase greater than inflation!

When a critical employee leaves
So many of my clients report having to absorb double duties when a team member abruptly leaves (e.g. right after a disappointing bonus). Your management is clearly incentivized to squeeze as much productivity from the current staff as possible at the same cost, and if you don’t ask for a raise, they won’t bring it up, even when you’re doing more work.

If you have a competing offer
Always explore your options externally. Finding out that you have an opportunity elsewhere with higher earning potential is a great time to ask your company for a raise. I am not talking about counter offers here. I am merely referring to understanding your market worth. If you decide to take an offer – don’t look for a counter internally.

Remember that asking for a raise is not taboo. If you are a valuable employee and can prove it to your company, it’s fair to pursue more money. Negotiation is always possible and the worst that can happen (company says “no, not at this time”) is not the end of the discussion, it just pushes the conversation to a different point in time. Keep notes of your successes and contributions and make a plan for a follow up discussion at some point in the not too distant future.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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