We all want more money at work. The more we earn, the easier it becomes to build near-term savings, sock funds away for retirement, and enjoy life's luxuries like travel, comfortable housing, and entertainment. But many employees make one critical error when asking for a raise: They wait until the very end of the year to request a pay boost. And if you're intent on upping your salary, that's a blunder you'll want to avoid.
Ask before it's too late
The reason you shouldn't wait till year-end to request a raise is simple: By then, your company budget may already be mapped out, at which point, you could be denied due to a lack of available funds. That's why you must have that conversation earlier in the year, before your company's money is fully allocated.
That said, your company's fiscal year may not align with the calendar year. If that's the case, you'll want to request your raise a few months before it's up. For example, if that fiscal year ends on June 30th, late April or early May could be your sweet spot.
Go in with a strategy
Getting your timing right is an important part of scoring a raise. But there's more to it than that. You'll also want to go in with a solid argument for more money.
You can start by researching salary data for your industry to determine what a fair wage is for your role. If the average employee with your job title makes $86,000 a year, and you only earn $72,000, that's data you'll want to put in front of your manager, since it clearly makes the case to pay you more. But aim to compile salary data that's regional, if possible. You'll have a much stronger argument if you can prove that workers in your specific geographic area with similar responsibilities earn more than you.
In addition to digging up salary info, put together a list of the ways you add specific value for your employer or go above and beyond what should be the regular call of duty. For example, if you're the one IT person on your team who's often called in on weekends to do system upgrades or troubleshoot issues, that's something you'll want to call out. Similarly, if you led and subsequently excelled at a specific project that was important to your team, be sure to bring that up.
Finally, pledge your commitment to working for your employer. Highlight the things you're happy about, and make it clear that a bump in salary is what it will take to ensure your continued employment. Remember, in today's competitive job market, companies are generally loathe to lose solid talent, so this tactic could produce great results. Just don't cross the line into threatening to quit if you don't get your way because your boss may not take kindly to that.
You deserve to be content with your salary. If you aren't, go ahead and ask for that raise -- before it's truly too late.