Can I ask for a raise yet? How to ask for a raise

Four tips on how—and when—to request your salary increase.

Can I ask for a raise yet? How to ask for a raise

Learn how to ask for a raise the right way.

If you're employed during the pandemic, there's a good chance you won't get a raise. You probably feel scared asking for a raise. You may even have taken a pay cut. And you've probably been told—or you've at least told yourself—that you should be grateful to have a job at all. But once the pandemic is behind us, a question arises: When is it a good time to learn how to ask for a raise?

The answer is still uncertain right now, but it's a great time to do your homework and prepare your request in a professional way.

"You might be told no," says Marianne Adoradio, a career consultant for Genentech in the San Francisco area. But even if you don't get an immediate raise, asking—appropriately—might still be beneficial. "You're displaying professionalism, assertiveness, and initiative. It shows that you won't be taken advantage of when times change."

Adoradio and other experts offer these four tips for deciding how and when to ask for an increase in pay:

Arm yourself with facts

It's hard to know how to ask for a raise until you do some research. You need to know how your company and industry are doing: Is your company meeting its financial goals? What is the current market rate for someone doing your job? Check Monster's Salary Guide for info on what someone in your position should be making.

Unofficial information, such as whether anyone in the company has been getting raises, can also be helpful if you're able to find out discreetly.

Finally, it's important to know "where you stand in the eyes of your manager and the management team," Adoradio says. If you're considered indispensable, you'll have a stronger case when asking for a raise.

Choose the right time

As you gather your information about the company's performance, you may realize that it's not the best time to ask for a pay increase.

"I wouldn't do it if they're still cutting things left and right," says Kathy Ullrich, technology partner and head of US diversity practice for Odgers Berndtson in Silicon Valley.

Asking for a raise while the company is in the middle of layoffs, for example, could send a signal that "you're not tuned in to the business," says Leslie G. Griffen, a Missouri-based HR consultant and career coach.

Phrase your request carefully

Adoradio suggests presenting a two-part request that highlights both your knowledge of the company's situation and your contributions—for instance: "Our department has been working extra hard, and my last performance review was exceptional. Once the economic situation of the company starts improving, I'm wondering if I could have a 5% pay increase."

If you have market data for your job position to back up your request, Ullrich suggests phrasing your request something like this: "I know that I joined the company during a softening economy. I was hoping that we could use this next year to get me closer to the norm."

Have a backup plan

Asking for a raise likely isn't possible now, but you can take this opportunity to lay the groundwork for the future. Ask for feedback on your work so you know where to improve. Griffen suggests saying something like, "I'm disappointed that it looks like increases are not going to be in place this year, but I would like some feedback on my value to the organization."

Adoradio recommends also asking your manager about the company goals that need to be met before management will start considering raises.

If you're been given the runaround, or if no raise is in sight, knowing how to ask for a raise won't get you the results you're after. It's time to fire up a job search and get paid what you deserve. Need some help taking the first steps? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are just two quick and easy ways Monster can help you plot the next steps along your career path.