Careers & Business

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The right time to ask for a raise depends on a host of factors

Asking an employer for a raise can be nerve-wracking. When asking for a raise, men and women do not want to give the impression that they are unhappy, but they do want to convey to their employers that they feel their performance merits a higher salary.

Balancing those two points can be difficult, and employees may even be intimidated at the idea of asking for more money. In many instances, employers recognize the efforts of their hard-working employees and are happy to reward them with more money, while other times an employer might recognize an employee's efforts but simply be unable to offer them more money until a later time. Before asking for a raise, men and women should consider a host of factors.

* Timing: Timing is often everything when asking for a raise. A company coming off a poor financial quarter or several poor quarters in a row may not have the means to give its employees more money. This isn't a reflection on the employee's value but rather a reflection on the company's financial reality at the moment. Men and women who want to ask their employers for more money should first consider the company's current financial status. No time is better than when the company is breaking sales records and thriving, while no time is worse than when the company is laying off employees or instituting other cost-cutting measures.

* Recent pay history: Men and women who recently received a raise may want to hold off on requesting more money. Even if your performance since your most recent raise has exceeded expectations, asking for another raise so shortly after your previous one may come off as selfish or unappreciative.

* Recent company history: Few businesses managed to make it through the recent recession without hitting some sort of financial slump. So while things may be on the rebound around the office, your company's recent history merits consideration before you ask for a raise. If your company or your specific department dipped financially during the recession, you may want to wait until things have shown steady improvement before asking for a raise. Should your department show consistent improvement, then your patience will serve you well, as you can now include that improved performance as further evidence that you have earned a raise.

* Tenure: How long you have been at your company is another factor to consider before asking for more money. Strong performance will prove a better ally to you than longevity. If your main selling point when asking for a raise is your tenure at the company, then you may want to wait until your performance is your biggest selling point.

* Motivation: Your motivation for asking for a raise is another factor to consider ahead of time. Personal issues, such as a new addition to the household or a higher mortgage payment, are not as impressive to employers as performance-related issues. Many employers care about their employees and want them to be happy outside of the office. But even the most accommodating employer likely won't feel an employee deserves a raise because he or she just bought a more expensive car. Bosses may be sympathetic to such issues, but they ultimately want to reward performance and likely won't base salary decisions on anything but performance.

Asking for a raise can be a stressful situation. But men and women who do so with the confidence that their performance merits a higher salary likely won't be disappointed.