When to Ask For a Raise

When to ask for a raise

If you have been working hard, going above & beyond, and exceeding expectations at work, you might start to feel like you deserve to earn more money for your time with a raise.  This is always a delicate balance and must be approached only after careful and thorough consideration of several factors.  Let’s look at several issues to take into consideration before you make the long walk to the boss’s office.

Length of Time at the Company

Depending on the circumstances, if you have been at a company for less than 6 months – and in some cases less than a year – it might be unreasonable to expect a pay increase.  In many cases, the salary you were offered was the salary that was budgeted.  Budgets can indeed change from year to year, especially if production or sales improve, but in general most companies review potential raises on an annual basis (if at all).  If you were hired at a lower rate during an evaluation period (typically 90 days), this might be an exception that should have been spelled out in your initial offer.  

In general, it’s best not to accept a job offer at a pay rate that is just too low to be sustainable for you, simply because you expect that you’ll get a raise soon.  Give it at least a year and during that time, give it your best, then bring up the matter once you have proven yourself to the company and have done some honest soul searching about any potential ways in which you could improve.


Have you been dependably at your workstation on time, every day?  If so, this is a feather in your cap!  If you have had several extenuating circumstances, it’s helpful to review the exact nature of your absences over the past 12 months.  Automotive issues are a common cause for lateness or absence from work, and from an employer’s perspective, there should always be a Plan B for getting to work in the event of a breakdown.  If you were on a hospital bed waiting for a surgery and the doctor called and said she couldn’t make it because she had a flat tire, how would you feel about that doctor?  Your own job may not be a life-or-death situation, but whether you treat getting to work with the utmost importance or whether you take a wait-and-see approach can have a direct impact on your earning potential.

Many people have unexpected childcare or health issues that come up from time to time: this is an understandable and reasonable issue for anyone to have, but how you handle matters at work can affect your success.  Do you communicate clearly and promptly to everyone involved or affected?  Do you try to find ways to soften the blow of your absence by making up time later or helping in other ways?  If so, it will be important to point out the exact ways you tried to mitigate the effects of unavoidable absences to show that you still do care about your job and reputation when family matters pull you away.

Production Output

It’s so important to measure and have a good idea of the volume of work you can produce in a day, or projects you can complete on schedule.  It’s also important to be able to show slow or steady improvement over time as well.  Are you always looking for ways to make your process more efficient?  Are you always looking to improve quality and reduce scrap or mistakes?  Anytime you can demonstrate clear and measured progress and specific improvements, this will help you at the bargaining table.

Justifying the Raise with Cost Savings

Did you come up with an idea or a process change to save the company money?  Keep track of your efforts throughout the year and do your best to assign an exact dollar value to the improvements you helped create: this can help take the bite out of the increased cost of your requested raise! Try to have additional new ideas in mind for your discussion to show you remain committed to helping move the company forward.


This one is tough, because we always think we have the best attitude and that everyone else has the problem!  If you refrain from gossip and encourage others, if you always try to solve problems instead of simply complain about them, and if you are generally cheerful and pleasant to work with, these attributes make it easier to get ahead in the workplace.   Ask yourself a few questions when you contemplate this topic, and be brave enough to allow the first answer to come to mind; the truth can only help you become a more well-adjusted and well-compensated person;

  • Is it possible others see me as combative or difficult?
  • Do I feel like people understand me when I try to communicate, or do I often feel misunderstood?
  • When others criticize me, do I get defensive or do I see an opportunity to grow and learn?
  • How many new things have I learned at work (or in my spare time) in the last year?
  • Am I really happy to be here?  If not, will extra money truly make me happy to stay?

Company Situation

You won’t have control over this one, but it’s important to take into account the current climate or situation at the company.  Did they just lose a key client?  Does it seem like a layoff is pending?  If all indicators point to a healthy company that is doing well, then it could be a beneficial time to ask for an increased benefit.

Check out this video from Forbes on the Three Best Times to Ask for a Raise:


Know the Goals

It’s important to understand your company’s Core Values and Mission Statement.  Are you exhibiting the kind of behaviors the Company wants to see at their organization?  Do you believe in the company’s products or services, and are you excited to be a part of the company’s Mission?  If so, discuss it!  Let your boss know what it means to you to be part of the organization, and how you see yourself contributing to the overall goals.

Don’t Make Your Request an Ultimatum

Above all, make a respectful request after carefully laying out your case.  Be prepared in advance to be turned down, or at least to be told to wait for a discussion higher up the chain.  If you have truly been working hard, improving, and have been a pleasure to work with, then your request may be a surprise in a positive way; your employer will most likely want to make sure they keep you on board, so they will set the wheels in motion to ensure they remain competitive.  

For more of the do’s and don’ts of asking for a raise, check out this article.

If, however, they don’t give you an indication of willingness to increase your pay, let them know you always like to improve and see if they have any suggestions for you.  This could be an eye-opening experience that changes the path of your career and sets you up for future success, so accept any criticism with gratitude, seeing it as an opportunity to improve your life and show your employer you are willing to grow as an individual.  Getting turned down for a raise doesn’t have to mean you need to come to work angry and start looking for another job, it simply means your expectations did not match your employer’s expectations.  If this situation can be resolved, it’s to your benefit to step up and send a message to your boss that you have what it takes to overcome challenges and become a leader in your own right.

If, even after all that, you find that you are not moving forward at your company year after year, it could be time to consider a change, but always balance that need carefully with your own professional development:

  • Do I need more training before I make the switch?
  • Do I have spotty job history on my resume already?
  • Do I have a safety net in case I don’t find work right away?
  • Are there people here who hold me in high enough regard to provide a good reference?

Not sure if it’s time for a total career change?  Check out this career questionnaire:


Remember: we either set ourselves up for success or for failure.  Every day when you get out of bed, you are faced with a thousand choices throughout your day.  When you display effort instead of avoidance, understanding instead of defensiveness, and power through your daily tasks instead of looking for an easier way out, you elevate your status as a leader.  You, Your success, and Your happiness matter too much to let a rash decision hamper your future.

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is Job Stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply Submit your resume online today!

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