Today is the Best Day to Ask for a Raise

October 1 might seem like a silly time to ask for more money. Lots of company’s do year end performance appraisals and year end raises, so it seems a bit early.

It’s not.

Here’s why.

Budgets are made in advance.

If your company does a year end raises, the budgets for those are made now–or may already be made. You don’t have any say over how much money is available, and unless you report directly into the CEO, your boss probably doesn’t have much say about the available cash. Your boss will get a budget (probably). That budget is probably arriving soon.

Ask for more money before your boss has made her decisions

After your boss has allocated all the money in her budget, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince her to take money away from someone to give it to you. That seems cruel. But, if you can make your case before she’s allocated any of the dollars, then your manager doesn’t think, “I’m taking this money from John, Karen, and Steve to give to Sally,” but “Sally deserves this much. Okay, how much is left for John, Karen, and Steve.”

Make your case

If you walk into your boss’s office and say, “I deserve a 10 percent raise,” and have no data to back it up, it won’t go over well. If you can come in with data, it will help you. What kind of data? Well, things like this:

  • Your accomplishments–especially above and beyond ones.
  • Words of praise from clients (internal and external).
  • Evidence of how you are working at a higher level than your job description indicates.
  • Market data for your position.

If you can’t demonstrate that you are better than average then expecting an above average raise is nothing more than wishful thinking.

Don’t wait until your boss tells you your year end raise

The worst time to ask for a raise is when your boss sits down with you and says, “your year end raise is 3.2%.” Even if you truly do deserve 7.5% and you have all the documentation for it, it’s not happening. Why? Because of budgets. For your boss to give you a bigger raise now, she’d have to call all her other employees back and say, “Oops, I told you your raise would be 4% but I have to drop it to 3% because Sally deserves more.” This is not happening.

The only exception is if you can demonstrate that there is something illegal about your raise or salary. If you can demonstrate race/gender/religion/whatever discrimination then you may be able to get a bigger raise at this point. But, if that’s the issue, please bring it up today. Don’t just hope it goes away.

Put your data together now

October 1 isn’t the only day to ask for a raise–but you should start pulling your information together now and ask as soon as possible. Asking, of course, is just asking, and it doesn’t guarantee a bigger year end raise. But, (as long as you’re not obnoxious) it does increase your probability of getting a good raise.

Don’t blame your boss

Your boss probably has no control over the budget and if you work with a high performing team, that can bite you in the behind at raise day. If your boss only has 3% to spread around and everyone is a great performer, you’re not going to get 10%, even if you deserve it.

It is true that the higher level of influence your boss has the more likely she is to be able to get additional funds. If you report into a first level supervisor, well, you’re stuck. If you report into the Sr. VP, you probably have more luck.

True story: One year, my boss happened to secure more money for our group (HRIS) and they took it away from the recruiters. It was a glorious day for data nerds. Oh, shhh, that was probably a secret. Don’t tell anyone.

And get your stuff together and go ask for a raise.

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