How Do You Know If You Should Negotiate Your Salary?

You’ve been working hard for a year or so, and things are going well. You’re exceeding your goals, and you believe you’re a valuable contributor to your team and company. So now you’re starting to wonder, when am I going to get a raise?

How do you know when the time is right to negotiate your salary? The most common response is likely, “during my year-end performance review.” But waiting for your review to start talking about salary might not be the best way to maximize the size of your raise.

Performance reviews usually take place at the same time for the entire company, and by the time they roll around, it’s likely that your boss and the HR department have already decided how to split the budget to give raises to each employee. Even if it’s company policy not to give raises outside of the review cycle, it’s a good idea to start bringing up the idea of a raise with your manager several months prior to your review, to make sure she or he is keeping you front of mind.

Also, if you’re performing well and know you’re underpaid, there’s no reason not to ask for a raise at any point in the year. Out of cycle increases — raises throughout the year — can take place for a variety of reasons, such as bringing an employee’s salary in line with market value, rewarding outstanding performance or even keeping pace with a rapidly changing job market.

How do you find out if you’re underpaid?

Learning your value is vital before beginning salary negotiations. Tossing out a random number without knowing what other people in your job are making is a recipe for disaster. There are a couple ways to find out what a fair salary is for job: contacting a recruiter and asking what they think; talking to your peers, if you know any working in a similar job; scanning job boards for similar jobs listed with salary. If that sounds difficult and imprecise, you’re probably right. Fortunately, PayScale’s Salary Survey can easily educate you to the range of what peers in your industry, in your area, and in your job field are making, giving you a solid idea of what your pay should be. Once you have that number, you can bring your salary report to meetings with your manager and/or HR to show them your market value, i.e. what you should be paid.

Be sure to prepare properly for your negotiation — do the research to learn your value, and make sure you can point to successful projects or victories that show you deserve a larger salary.

The good news is, according to PayScale’s data, 75 percent of people who ask for a raise get one. The odds are in your favor.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you believe you’re underpaid? What’s your plan? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.