When To Ask for a Raise at Work

How Often Should You Ask for a Increase in Pay?

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Most people are uncomfortable talking about money with anyone, much less discussing it with their boss. But it’s important to learn how to negotiate salary anyway. If you never ask for a raise, you’re less likely to get paid fairly.

Raises are not guaranteed. Some organizations are proactive with salary increases and review employee performance at regular 6- or 12-month intervals. However, there’s no guarantee that a positive performance review will net an increase that significantly boosts your pay. If you want to earn more money, you need to be prepared to negotiate. 

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t ask for a raise too soon after taking a job or more than once a year.
  • Time your request well before annual performance reviews.
  • Quantify your achievements and base your request on salary research.

How Often To Ask for a Raise

In most cases, you shouldn't ask for a raise more than once a year. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if your employer didn’t give you a raise six months ago but promised to revisit the issue in another four months based on performance goals or available funding.

Another window of opportunity might be after a significant achievement, such as landing a big client, orchestrating a successful event, securing a major grant, introducing a successful cost-cutting measure, or closing a big deal.


In general, you should not ask for a raise until you have worked in a position for a full year.

Be Prepared Before You Ask

However long it takes, don't ask for a raise until you have lined up a compelling rationale for one. Here’s how:

Track Your Wins

Keep a daily or weekly journal of your accomplishments on the job so you have evidence to point to when making your request.

Show Results

Emphasize results that have had an impact on the bottom line, whether they led to increased sales, cost savings, quality improvements, or employee retention. Mention if you have added skills (through a class or training), taken on additional responsibilities, completed a project successfully, or surpassed the goals set at the start of the year.

Exceed Expectations

Keep in mind that simply handling the responsibilities detailed in your job description doesn't justify a raise. Managers look for employees who go above and beyond the required levels of work and productivity. Document the things you have done that your manager values and that make them look good as well.

Do Your Research

Before asking for a raise, research the average salary and average raises for your position in your location. Is your salary at the market rate? Lower? Higher? Use your research to bolster the amount you're asking for. 

Time Your Request

Timing matters when it comes to asking for a raise. Don't ask for one when your boss is having a bad day. And hold off making a request if the company isn't doing well. (If news breaks that a major deal fell through, for instance, ask to reschedule the meeting about your salary.)

Consider, too, when raises are typically awarded. Then, aim to make your request a few months in advance. For instance, if your company awards promotions or cost-of-living raises at the end of the fiscal year in June, aim to make your case for a raise in April. That will give your manager time to consider your request and meet with others in the company who are responsible for determining who gets a raise (and for how much).

Don't Complain, Persuade!

This isn't the time to whine about how everyone else is making more than you or how you take on twice as much work as they do. Even if it's true, complaining rarely convinces bosses to loosen the purse strings.

Also, don't talk about how much your own expenses, such as rent or loans, have gone up. Your financial situation is not your manager's concern.

Instead, base your argument on data. Talk about how your accomplishments have added to the organization’s bottom line and about the market rate for your role and skills.

Is a Promotion a Possibility?

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to enhance your pay is to secure a promotion. If there is a suitable opening above your level or if you can justify reclassifying your job at a higher level, then ask management about the possibility of a promotion.

Promotions are often accompanied by more significant raises than would normally be awarded as part of regular salary adjustments. 

How To Ask for a Raise

As you can see, there's nothing spontaneous about asking for a raise. You'll want to be well-prepared before requesting one. Best practices for successfully receiving a pay raise include the following:


Have an agenda for the meeting and some salary scripts. Have an argument for why you deserve more and be prepared to discuss it.

Dress the Part

Even if your office dress code is casual or nonexistent, now is not the time to come to work in your beach attire. Dress professionally. After the meeting is over, your boss should be thinking about the case you’ve built, not what you were wearing during the conversation.

Have a Plan B

What will you do if your manager says no—and doesn't offer hope of a raise in the near future? Quitting on the spot is seldom advisable, but you'll feel more confident in the discussion if you have a backup plan, for example, if you’ve been pursuing leads at other companies.

And, while some experts agree that it's best to ask for a raise in person, there are advantages to sending an email instead. For one thing, you may feel more comfortable making your case in writing, and your manager may prefer having some time to review and consider your request.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should you negotiate starting salary?

Most employers are willing to negotiate starting salaries, according to CareerBuilder research. Further, 26% of employers say that their initial salary offer was at least $5,000 less than they were willing to offer. 

What is a typical annual raise?

The typical raise varies by industry, employer size, and location. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average compensation rose 4.6% in 2022. 

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CareerBuilder. "More Than Half of Workers Do Not Negotiate Job Offers, According to New CareerBuilder Survey."

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Cost Index Summary." 

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