Five Signs It’s Time to Ask for a Raise


Looking for a sign from the universe to push you into doing something nerve-wracking can be an exercise in futility.

However, when it comes to deciding if you need to ask for a raise, there’s a good chance that the signs have been flashing before your eyes for at least a few weeks.

We talked with workplace experts across the country about the signs that it’s time for you to ask for a raise and we received a litany of various responses.

While none of them is a lightning bolt from the heavens, they are serious enough that you should consider them as you formulate your strategy for negotiating a raise with your boss.

When the Market Is Telling You It’s Time

Salary metrics are easy to find these days. Take some time every couple of months to check in with the average salary for your field.

If there’s a big discrepancy between what the industry average is and what you’re earning each month, it might be time to ask for a raise, said Osman Karabulut, HR manager at PPC Protect.

“If another employer is going to pay you a considerable amount more in the same area, then you can use that as leverage when negotiating a pay raise,” Karabulut said.

Leadership trainer Alissa Carpenter echoed this sentiment.

“Look at websites like glassdoor.com and see how your current salary stacks up among the competition,” Carpenter said. “If it doesn’t, and you’ve been with your company about a year, it’s time to have that conversation.”

Remember to keep the negotiations respectful, too. Don’t tear your coworkers down to build yourself up. Stick with the facts, one of which may be that you’re being underpaid compared to what others in your field are earning.

When You’ve Done Something to Save the Company Money

Great ideas are usually the ones that make money or save money and, if you’re the creator behind that idea, then your bosses are well aware of your efforts.

Selena Rezvani, author and VP of consulting and research at BeLeaderly, says there’s no shame in pointing to company-wide savings you authored as a way to sweet-talk your boss into a raise.

“When you’ve done something that lowers costs. If you just came up with a cost-saving efficiency or performed an analysis pinpointing exactly where the company is losing money, you are creating clear, material value,” Rezvani said.

When You’re Happy with Your Job but There’s Nagging Discontent

While we’d like to think we’re self-aware about the way we’re feeling, Lauren Handrick, an HR analyst at NYC-based Fit Small Business, said that you should pay close attention to any underlying feelings of dissatisfaction.

There’s a good chance, she said, that you might be unhappy with your pay.

“One sign that’s important for employees is to listen to is the discontented feeling in their gut,” Handrick said. “When all else is good in the job: They like their supervisor, the work is challenging, and they’re proud of their company – but they feel restless nonetheless, and perhaps even a little bitter or angry – it might be because they feel they’re not being compensated properly.”

If you discover that you’re dealing with this discontent and your research shows that your pay isn’t fair, it’s time to act.

“Employees need to listen to their body, their gut, their instincts on this one,” Handrick said. “When their pay is out of whack, they’ll feel it, even if they don’t initially recognize why, or they try to justify that everything’s okay.”

When Your Work Anniversary Approaches

Most of us are used to undergoing some sort of yearly evaluation near the time when we started with our employer.

These meetings usually consist of a few words of praise, some constructive criticism and a cordial “Keep up the good work!”

If your raise isn’t usually part of the discussion, make it part of the discussion, Carpenter said.

“If you are coming up on a year anniversary and don’t have a meeting or review scheduled with your supervisor, now is the time to schedule one,” she said. “Often, managers do not notice employees’ anniversary dates but may notice the value that you bring to the position.”

When You’re Looking for a Sign

Our final tip comes from Tracy Timm, a career coach based in Texas. Timm says that the very fact that you’re looking for a sign is an indication that it’s time to ask for a raise.

“I’m of the belief that the ‘sign’ itself is the fact that you’re looking for a sign in the first place,” Timm said. “The human intuition is a very powerful thing. If a person is indeed already asking herself if she should or shouldn’t ask for a raise, it’s highly likely that it’s about time for that conversation to happen.”


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