When’s the right time to ask for a salary increase at your first job?

Blond women with money. MEDIjobs

If you’re considering asking for a raise, you first need to ask yourself if you truly deserve a raise. Did you hit all your goals? Have you helped drive more revenue to the business or take on more responsibility? Is the company doing well? Before asking the big question, you need to assess if you can legitimately ask for a pay increase. You’ll need to arm yourself with examples that show how you have helped the company in a big picture. We’ve outlined the things to consider when determining the right time to ask for a salary increase at your first job.

Timing 

As with most things in life, timing is everything. Most businesses have annual reviews and make plans for funds months in advance. Do not wait until your annual review when funds are already determined to ask for a raise. The best time to ask is three months before your annual review. In the position less than a year? It’s a general rule to wait until a year and six months in. Some businesses have raise schedules; if your company has a raise schedule, prepare for that date, get your materials ready, and be prepared with your ask with the following topics below in mind. 

Research

Doing your homework and being prepared for your ask is just as important as the timing. You’ll need to come equipped with a few key things. What is the going salary in your area for your current role? What are your co-workers making with the same experience in the same position? Does the company you’re working for have the budget for a salary increase? More importantly, how has your work contributed to increasing the overall bottom line for the company? Considering and planning the above when you’re ready for your ask will be vital. Come to the meeting prepared with a letter or document that outlines your new responsibilities or contributions that are beyond your hired scope of work, along with any bits of hard data you can provide. 

Role

Has your role changed since you got hired, or have you taken on more responsibility? Have you changed positions or helped implement new processes to save the business time or money? If your role has changed significantly (six months ago or longer) and the timing is right, it may be time to ask for a salary increase. 

Responsibility 

If you haven’t taken on new responsibility, instead of asking for money, consider asking for more responsibility. In the healthcare field, this commonly involves securing additional certifications, transferring departments, taking on extra shifts, or continuing your education so you can advance your position. This not only is a great way to increase your chances of a salary increase, but it also moves you up the ladder. Asking for more responsibility can be tricky. 

The Ask 

Did you meet all the prerequisites we mentioned above? If so, there are a few additional things you’ll need to do to prepare for the big ask. These things are unrelated to the role itself and, instead, prepare you for the day of the ask.

  • Dress the part
  • Try to schedule the meeting in a neutral environment 
  • Watch your body language 
  • Use matter of fact data rather than emotion 

Preparing For A “No” 

More often than not, salary increases are denied or aren’t the increase you were hoping for. You’ll need to prepare for what you’re going to do if you don’t get the response you desired. Will you resign? Will you ask for more responsibilities? Or will you go above and beyond to make sure you get the increase next time? An additional suggestion is to ask what an average salary increase is where you work. Sometimes there’s an across the board standard increase. If this is the case, and you won’t reach your desired rate no matter what you do, it may be time to consider a different employer. This is also why being familiar with this information before signing hiring paperwork can be vital. If the role doesn’t allow for advancement that meets your needs, you will want to consider how long you’ve been in the role and what other opportunities are out there (if deserving). Our advice? Make sure to apply for jobs and secure something before leaving your current role. Applicants seeking advancement in their careers are more likely to be hired over those who are currently in-between jobs. 

Is it the right time to ask for a salary increase at your first job? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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