How Often Should You Get a Raise?

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The question, “How often should I get a raise?” is understandably common among young professionals. When you’re doing your best to push the company forward, it’s only fair that your efforts reflect in your salary. 

But many employees avoid money conversations with their boss. Out of 160,000+ employees PayScale surveyed, only 37%  have ever requested a raise in their current job. 

But being a young professional navigating the early years of a career, you know that getting fair compensation goes beyond mere survival. It’s about dignity and appreciation of your work and, more importantly, affording the life you want.

Whichever your justification for a pay raise, you could wait around for your manager to initiate the discussion. Or you could take matters into your hands. 

But this begs the question: how often should you get a raise and how much? 

Well, there’s no universal answer to this question, as many considerations factor in the decision. But knowing when and how to ask (or even wait) for a raise can make the process less stressful. 

This post will teach you about the timing aspects of salary raises and how to proceed with the process like a pro. Let’s start with how a pay bump could impact your life. 

Why Raises Are Important

Several benefits come with a higher salary, the most prominent being a better lifestyle. 

With a couple of thousand dollars more in your bank, you can comfortably afford better daily living and healthcare. It could also mean more savings towards a house, car, children’s education, vacations abroad, or future investments. 

While considering the effects of workplace stress, a pay raise can better your health. You don’t have to overstretch your working hours to afford a higher-quality rental. That means more time for activities you enjoy outside work, including hobbies and fun with family or friends. 

The better you relax, the better you sleep, and the higher your readiness for a new day’s challenges. 

Aren’t those enough reasons to pursue that raise? Next, let’s focus on the “when and how often” of salary negotiations. 

How Often You Should Get a Raise

Knowing how often you should get a pay raise helps you plan accordingly. Consider the situations below. 

In general

If you’re initiating salary discussions every month without a logical reason, you’ll likely come off as selfish. Such conversations become less meaningful over time. 

In general, request a raise once per year, especially after a performance review.

But exceptions apply. Below are circumstances you can negotiate your salary more than once a year: 

  • You’ve taken on more responsibilities (as with a promotion)
  • You now oversee a team
  • You’re working longer hours
  • You’ve achieved a sizeable goal for your company

Waiting for a raise

Employers are more likely to reward employees who’ve been with them for at least a year. If you’re a recent hire, I recommend waiting for at least six months to request a raise. 

But powering through the job, year after year, hoping that one day your employer will grant your wish isn’t always a viable option. Sometimes, employers just don’t seem to notice or care. And the only way to score that pay bump is to ask for it.

Asking for a raise

If you feel your salary isn’t keeping up with inflation, the cost of living, or the average market value, take the initiative and ask for a raise. 

The worst that can happen is your boss saying no. And even if this occurs, you can still negotiate for more perks or opportunities.

Whether your company has an annual or biannual review process, ask for a raise during that cycle. 

But what if salary increments are based on something else entirely, like projects completed or sales won? In that case, pick a time when your achievements are fresh in the mind of your supervisor or employer. That will make your request for more compensation more justifiable. 

How Much of a Raise Can You Request?

When negotiating a pay raise, better ask for too much than too little. When you set your salary expectations too low, it’s hard to return later and ask for more, risking your financial freedom. When you mention a higher figure, the company will likely offer closer to your desired figure.

But don’t just throw out an amount and hope for the best. It’s absurd asking for a $25K raise while your current salary stands at $40K. 

You’ll have a better chance of getting what you want if you have a well-researched plan. 

While the standard increment is 10% of the current salary, the average market value and the level of your new responsibilities (or achievements) will determine the most reasonable raise you can request. 

For example, suppose you make $55,000 while others in a similar role in different companies in your city make $70,000. In that case, it’s reasonable to request more than a 20% income bump to accommodate the difference. 

Tips for Asking for a Raise

Now that we’ve answered the “how often should you get a raise at work” question, how good are you with salary negotiations? Do you just say, “Here’s my request for a raise,” and avoid all of the awkwardness?

Sure, asking for a raise can feel incredibly awkward. It’s hard to know what to say and how to say it and harder to do it while calm and collected.

No wonder 55% of employees admit they wouldn’t pursue a pay increase. And below are among the  reasons cited:  

  • Not wanting to appear selfish (15%)
  • Too nervous (12%)
  • Don’t know what to say (16%)
  • Fearing rejection (12%)

Making a solid argument for your raise comes down to timing, preparation, and leverage. Here’s how to prepare and have a conversation that hopefully leads to more money.

  1. Research the average salary
  2. Gather data and build your case
  3. Timing is everything
  4. Be confident but diplomatic 
  5. Don’t just focus on pay raise

Conduct Research

Before asking for more money, make sure to establish what people in similar positions at comparable companies make.

I know salary discussions are rarely welcome at workplaces. But thanks to resources like Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com, you can quickly discover average salaries based on your location and job title.

Alternatively, you can talk to a trusted colleague in a low-pressure situation. If someone with a similar title and responsibilities is earning significantly more than you, it’s time to negotiate your compensation.

Gather Data and Build a Case

Your manager may not know everything about your work, so it’s essential to present a detailed case for yourself. 

Itemize things and results that reflect your value to the company. That could be your achievements, awards, increases in responsibility, increased contributions to sales or profits, etc.

The more numbers and facts you can compile, the stronger your case. 

When compiling this information, think about it from the perspective of a CFO… they care about money (it’s their job). So, let your justifications for a pay raise make sense from the financial perspective.

Timing is Everything

Don’t ask for a raise during times of stress, for example, when your company is experiencing massive layoffs or your boss is having a bad day. Wait until things have settled down and when business is doing well. 

Remember to check the salary review policies within your company.

Perhaps your company awards salary raises and promotions at the end of the fiscal year. Whether December 31st or June 30th, submit your request two months in advance. That will let the respective decision-makers think about your request and act accordingly (hopefully in your favor). 

If it’s about an achievement that exceeds current expectations, negotiate your salary when the news is still hot.

Be Confident But Diplomatic

There’s never any guarantee that you’ll get what you want, even if it seems justified. But approaching a salary negotiation calmly and professionally will better your chances. Or at least lay the foundation for future consideration. 

While we recommend presenting your case confidently, don’t be egotistical. Also, leave some wiggle room if your employer isn’t willing to meet your entire request. 

 Don’t count on an emotional approach, whether your expenses have gone up or coworkers with fewer responsibilities are earning more. While your boss may be sympathetic to your plight, whining often leads to conflicts and an early rejection.

 So, focus on demonstrating your value as advised earlier. 

Prepare for Rejection

Being denied a raise hurts. But responding rudely or threatening to resign or reduce effort will only escalate the situation. 

Here’re approaches better than entering a screaming match with your boss: 

  • Request a future review: You can compel your boss to revisit the issue in the future. 
  • Ask how you can improve your chances: Ask your supervisor what areas they would like to see improvement in or what goals you must reach to warrant a future raise.
  • Consider other benefits. An incentive program or a few days of telecommuting or paid vacation can be as valuable as a small raise.
  • Request a promotion: First, ascertain if there’s an opportunity for a promotion before asking your boss for one. You’ll get more responsibilities, but won’t that propel you to a higher salary bracket as you desired?
  • Plan your exit: So, your employer is adamant about increasing your salary, and there are zero chances of a promotion in the future. For the sake of your career growth and financial freedom, start pursuing leads at other companies while at your current job

Summary

Pay raises can have a significant impact on your life. For example, a $5K raise today will lower your stress from financial pressures and make tomorrow feel less daunting. 

But a lot comes into play regarding the “how often should you get a pay raise” question. From how long you’ve been with your employer, the company’s current financial situation, to your responsibilities and achievements. 

While we advise against negotiating your salary now and then, strive to improve your value. And when you’ve gathered enough data to justify your raise request, use the above salary negotiation tips to maximize your chances. 

All the best, and see you in our next post!