A few years ago, a young adult sought guidance on asking their employer for a raise. They were certain it was only the right thing to do as they had done well with the onboarding and initial training program. The young employee was feeling comfortable where they had been placed within the organization and had eagerly taken on responsibility. This person was advised that its very common for new employees to ask for a raise within the first 3 months of employment. If they were to move up in earnings they’d have to initiate it. Luckily, someone else advised it was a bad idea and if they wanted to move up they’d keep up the good work and not risk offending the employer. I completely agreed.
If someone has given you advice to ask for a raise before the time is right, please ignore them. While there is no absolute answer as to when is the right time to ask for a raise, start with this list to see if timing is in your favor.
Longevity – While you don’t have to put in relentless years before asking for a raise, there is normally an unspoken length of time that is just common courtesy to your employer. I believe this is typically 18 to 24 months. Your employer put in a lot of work to hire you and someone worked thoughtfully on what you should be paid when you were hired. If you were diligent during the hiring process you would have seized this opportunity. The time to have a salary negotiation is when you receive an offer, not six months after the fact. Also, at 18 to 24 months in you should be falling into the organization’s natural salary review process and your manager should be opening the door for that conversation to occur.
Performance – Now’s the time to have a very honest conversation with yourself. How’s your job performance? To best position yourself to ask for a raise, or be eligible for that matter, you need to be a solid performer with a steady track record. Plain and simple, employees that prove themselves as being able to manage the responsibility given to them will be the first considered for an increase. If you are not in good graces with your employer, have had job performance issues, or are not able to meet the standard of expectations you probably shouldn’t expect a raise. Now, more than ever, companies are being strategic to reward the best performing employees. Employees are essential to helping companies advance in the marketplace. If you are not helping the company advance you are likely hurting it and therefore will not be considered for a raise.
Approach – You really need to have your thoughts together before you jump into a conversation on this topic. It is after all a very sensitive topic that can leave everyone involved with bad feelings, like being underappreciated as both employer and employee. If you do want to bring it up and you feel it’s the right time, prepare yourself for some open conversation and difficult responses. You may learn your performance is not satisfactory, the budget wasn’t available this year, the manager doesn’t know or can’t answer the question. Think about how you’ll react to that information ahead of time.
Also realize, salary increases are often not streamlined and have numerous factors, complexities and party involvement from across the organization. Your manager may not even have control over what you are being paid. My recommendation is to seek to understand not demand and have some patience. It’s a delicate balance of letting your manager know it’s a desire without offending to a point you’re not considered in the future.