How often should you get a raise? (full guide)
Discussing a pay raise with your boss can feel like navigating a minefield.
Are you asking too soon, or perhaps too late? Are you asking for too much, or maybe too little?
In a world where discussing money matters is often seen as taboo, it’s essential to know where you stand. This begs the question, how often should you get a pay raise at work?
Most experts recommend that employees get a raise at least once per year to keep up with inflation. However, the actual frequency of raises may vary depending on the company's profitability, the local economy, and the employee's performance.
Note that if you have started a job recently and passed the probation, you may need to wait 6 more months before requesting a salary increase.
Most companies have a yearly performance review which gives you the chance to bring up a raise. Keep in mind:
- It's fair to believe that as you progress with your work and professional achievements, your compensation should increase accordingly.
- If you haven't been offered a raise yet, you may find it a little uncomfortable to ask for one.
- Knowing when it's acceptable and reasonable to ask for a raise will help you build your argumentation better.
Table of Contents
Should you get a raise every year?
Yearly salary raises are not guaranteed unless your contract doesn't specifically say so. Most employers follow the same annual salary actualization policy, binding it to the yearly inflation level or up to 3%. Location, sector, and job performance can also play a role.
Should you expect a raise after 1 year?
You should expect a raise after 1 year of working for the same company. Large and medium-sized companies have an end-of-the-year review policy which brings the chance to discuss a salary increase.
Even if the first end-of-the-year review is taking place earlier than a complete year since your start in the company, be prepared for a discussion.
Make sure to enquire about the expectations of your manager and consult with them - your review should not be the first time you discuss your performance with your superior.
Be a proactive employee and create a map of personal achievements leading to a raise, writing down the actionable items after each performance discussion.
This helps keep track of your professional growth and stands at the bottom of a well-backed-up discussion. (It would be perfectly reasonable to ask for a raise when you are a new hire and your probation period is over.)
Should you ask for a raise after 6 months?
You should ask for a raise after 6 months on the job if you have achieved remarkable results during the period. Your top priority would be to prove how much of an asset you have been for the past 6 months in front of your boss.
When new to a job, how often should an employee get a raise? Being new doesn’t mean you don't deserve a raise, however, it often means you haven't had enough time to prove yourself valuable.
If you are certain you would like to receive a raise in a shorter period than 1 year, make sure you are working for it from the start.
Work hard and request performance discussions with your manager often – on a monthly basis, this will help you stay on the right development path to make your steps upward.
Should you ask for a raise every year?
You can ask for a raise every year, especially if you have been with a company for a few years and your expertise has grown significantly.
It's important to be aware of the budget range the company has for the specific role, as it's possible to reach a limit.
While asking for a raise every year is not limited, the opportunities a certain role can give you are. You should consider a change in direction of growth – enquire about horizontal or vertical career paths within the company, or even research your options to apply to other companies.
The employer should also be prepared with calculations of the costs of replacing a senior, profitable employee with lots of experience and the costs of searching, recruiting, and training a new member.
In most cases giving a raise to a senior is the better option for the company.
Are employers required to give raises?
Many people feel like companies have to give a raise every year to their workers. However, employers are not required by law to give raises.
Regulations require they pay minimum wage and overtime compensation but salary raises are not mandatory.
Usually, companies build their own policy on giving raises. It is shared with employees when they start or each time the policy is updated.
Don't forget that you can ask coworkers who parallel your position to compare your salaries.
Even if a company has a yearly review policy which is written in your contract, it's not mandatory that the earnings are adjusted upwards every year.
The employer is to make this decision depending on their business growth/development plan.
A significant change in the cost of living can be a solid reason for a raise or compensation, so do enquire for such if the economic conditions require it, but be aware that it's not mandatory for your employer to update your salary.
Factors that affect raises
Whether you are due a salary increase or you are about to ask for a raise, here are the key considerations that will play a significant role in getting one.
1. Inflation and cost of living
These are perhaps the most critical factors that necessitate a raise. To maintain an employee’s purchasing power, salaries should be adjusted in line with inflation rates.
Some companies proactively adjust salaries based on cost-of-living indexes, ensuring that employees can maintain their standard of living.
2. Company performance and profits
A company's financial health plays a significant role in its ability to give raises.
During prosperous times, companies may be more generous with raises. This is also where it's best to approach your boss and ask for one.
Conversely, during economic downturns, raises may be minimal or nonexistent, reflecting the company's need to tighten its budget.
3. Employee performance and achievements
An employee’s performance is a pivotal factor in determining the size and frequency of raises.
Achievements such as completing a major project or exceeding sales targets can warrant a raise.
This is why you should always keep a record of your accomplishments and present this evidence during salary negotiations as a testament to your value within the company.
4. Market rates for your role
The going rate for a particular role in an industry can significantly affect one’s raise.
Employees should research and be aware of the market salary rates for their positions using tools like salary surveys or websites.
Being paid below the market rate can be a strong argument for a raise during negotiations.
5. Tenure and loyalty
Long-term employees may receive raises as a reward for their loyalty and commitment to the company.
6. Additional responsibilities
Taking on additional responsibilities or a higher workload often warrants a raise.
I strongly encourage you to document any additional responsibilities and bring them up during salary negotiations as evidence of your increased contributions to the company.
How to ask for a raise
Asking for a raise is a normal part of your career progression, but it requires careful preparation and timing.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you approach this important conversation with confidence:
1. Start with research
To understand your current market value, start by researching the average salary for your position in your industry and location using websites like Glassdoor or Payscale.
Knowing more about the sector helps you build a more realistic picture and shows you are aware of the role’s current business development.
Additionally, you can check your network. Feel free to ask if your connections with similar roles have been given a raise.
If you think about discussing this with your coworkers, make sure to only approach those whom you trust not to report your inquiry to your boss.
2. Document your achievements
Compile a list of your accomplishments, responsibilities, and any additional efforts you have made since your last review, or since your start date if this is your first review.
Your personal achievements and professional growth during the past year will definitely help you get promoted.
3. Choose the right time
Track your company's achievements of the pre-set growth goals for the year.
If there's progress and the company is doing well financially, then you have the green light to proceed.
4. Set up a meeting
Send an email or talk to your manager about setting up a dedicated time to discuss your salary.
In your request, be clear that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss your compensation.
5. Practice your pitch
Before the meeting, rehearse what you are going to say.
Practice makes perfect, and walking into the meeting with a well-prepared pitch will boost your confidence.
Speak confidently but avoid sounding apologetic or overly aggressive.
5: Make your case
In the meeting, calmly and professionally present the data you’ve collected on industry salary standards and your achievements.
Clearly state that you are seeking a raise and specify the amount or percentage you have in mind.
This is your opportunity to make a compelling case for why you deserve a raise, so be prepared to discuss your contributions in detail.
6: Listen and negotiate
Be open and attentive as you listen to your manager’s response without interrupting.
If the initial offer isn't what you expected, be prepared to negotiate.
Have a counteroffer in mind, and be willing to discuss it rationally and professionally.
7. Follow up
After the meeting, send a thank-you email to your manager for their time and consideration.
If you were granted a raise, ask for a written confirmation of the new salary and when it will take effect. This ensures that both parties are clear on the terms agreed upon.
8: Plan your next steps
Evaluate the outcome of your request. If your request is denied, consider the reasons and decide on your next steps.
This could include setting specific goals for what you need to achieve to earn a raise in the future, or potentially looking for a new job if you feel you are significantly underpaid.
Whatever the outcome, use it as an opportunity to grow and plan your career path.
How often should you get a cost of living raise?
Yearly adjustment of salary, related to the CPI (annual inflation rate) is considered appropriate. It's often up to 3% of the current compensation package, depending on the yearly calculations.
In case you are relocated to an area with a higher cost of living, you should ask for a salary adjustment.
Note that the cost of living adjustment should not be considered a raise in the same sense as a raise for accomplishment for example, as its purpose is to simply keep your earnings the same in relation to higher cost of living.
Some companies prefer to increase the social benefits package of their employees rather than giving them monetary compensation, so be prepared for such an offer.
How much should you ask for a raise?
Ask for a 10-20% pay raise of the net salary you are currently receiving.
In case you don’t get one, it's considered that switching jobs is the fastest way to maximize your earnings for a period of time by requesting a higher payment each time.
If you stay in the same company, you can be restricted by the payment base for a specific role or the company's budget as a whole.
Take the time to prepare your arguments for a raise, including your loyalty, expertise, profitability, and personal achievements accomplished in the time you’ve been with the company.
How long should you work without a raise?
Depending on the sector, working for more than 18 months without a raise could be considered wage stagnation. This can be a solid reason to start looking for a better-paying job.
In case you see no promotion chance for the next 12 months in the same company - do check your chances in other companies in the sector. And take a look at our guide on how to carefully decline a job offer when salary is not satisfactory.
The red flags that will help you make your forecast are the low earning reports, slow growth, and a hiring freeze, especially when combined with waves of leaving employees.
My experience with salary increases frequency
I've been working for the same company for more than 10 years and I've had many instances of salary raises, some of which I have personally asked for.
From my experience, I can share that, as each year passes, it gets more and more difficult to get a raise.
In the early years of my tenure, raises seemed almost automatic. Each year, after our annual reviews, a modest but appreciated increase in salary would follow.
It was a straightforward process, and I rarely felt the need to negotiate.
However, as the years went by, I noticed a shift. The company grew larger, budgets got tighter, and those automatic raises became less frequent.
I realized that if I wanted my compensation to reflect my hard work and dedication, I would need to become my own advocate.
So, I started to prepare. Before each review, I would document my accomplishments, noting instances where I went above and beyond my job description.
I researched industry standards for my position and came to each review meeting with a clear and reasonable figure in mind.
The first time I asked for a raise, my hands were shaking, but I presented my case confidently and professionally.
My manager was impressed with the data I had collected and my clear communication. While I didn’t get the full amount I asked for, I received a significant increase, and perhaps more importantly, I gained my manager’s respect.
Now, I approach the topic of raises as a normal part of my career development. I don’t ask every year, but when I do, I come prepared.
I’ve learned that asking for a raise is not just about the money; it’s about recognizing my own value and ensuring that my company sees it too.
My advice to you is simple: be your own advocate, come prepared with facts, and communicate your case clearly and professionally.
It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, it becomes just another aspect of managing your career.
And if you don't get the desired salary increment, you can always look for another job that pays more.
Frequently asked questions
How often should companies give raises?
Companies should give pay raises to workers when they give them more responsibilities. Raises for loyalty, impact, or consistent hard work, however, are often given only once after a performance review.
When is the best time to ask for a raise?
The best time to ask for a raise is after a performance review or when you have consistently demonstrated exceptional work. Avoid asking during company-wide stressful periods or immediately after a downturn in company profits.
Are there alternatives to a salary raise that I can negotiate for?
Yes, alternatives to a salary raise can include bonuses, additional vacation time, flexible work hours, remote work options, stock options, or additional professional development opportunities.
Is it better to switch jobs frequently to get higher pay?
Switching jobs can lead to higher pay, but it comes with risks such as perceived instability and loss of long-term benefits. It’s important to weigh the potential salary increase against these factors and decide what is most important for your career and personal life.