To get the money you deserve, you have to ask for it and explain why you deserve it. In a bad economy, wondering "When is the best time to ask for a raise?" is sort of like asking "When is the best time to buy a house?" The answer is, "Whenever you need a house!" So if you feel you need (and deserve) a raise, now is the best time.
Reasons You May Feel Hesitant
1. You feel lucky to even have a job.
2. You worry the boss might view it as "unacceptable" or out of the question.
3. You are afraid of being rejected, demoted, or fired.
4. You feel guilty because friends and colleagues are laid off or cannot find work.
5. In general, fewer Americans are getting a raise (across all industries).
Your boss cannot fire you for asking for a raise. Under normal circumstances, it is customary to ask for a raise every 12-18 months. If you received a mediocre raise, ask your boss if you can revisit the discussion in 4-6 months.
The most opportune time to bring up a raise is after you have earned a major victory for the company or department, or whenever you are on the boss' good side. Schedule a convenient, stress-free time for your boss. If you prefer, ask them if they want to discuss it over coffee so it feels more comfortable.
Any time you negotiate salary or a raise; you must be confident and be prepared. Compile a list your contributions and for each item, state its impact on the company's bottom line.
Here are some examples:
1. Goals met
2. Projects completed
3. Problems solved
4. Impact on your department or team
5. New ideas or projects generated
6. Tasks fulfilled
7. Knowledge gained
8. Expectations exceeded
9. Kudos from clients and co-workers
In your discussion, follow these guidelines:
1. Acknowledge that you understand the economy and company's financial situation.
2. Do not insinuate that your current salary or job position is a problem.
3. Never give an ultimatum or threaten to quit if you do no get a raise.
4. Do not tell them if you have a better offer from another company.
What to Expect When You're Expecting...a Raise
First and foremost, get ready to hear "No". When you know it is coming, you can respond unemotionally and state your prepared arguments. Take the initial rejection as jumping off point to start negotiation. Reiterate your best arguments and then about other possible options.
Budget can be a real issue for negotiating a higher salary or raise, especially in a tough economy. Non-cash options are a great alternative if your employer's budget cannot grant a raise or higher salary. These perks may seem less attractive than what you hoped for, but they do save you money and make life easier.
If you still come away empty handed, set up another meeting in 4-6 months or whenever the budget improves. For the mean time, define goals with your boss that you can meet to win a raise the next time.