3 Times You Shouldn’t Ask For a Raise — And The 1 Time You Absolutely Should

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Stephanie Mansueto, Corporate Recruiter & Job Hunting Coach499
Recruiter & Job Hunting Coach for Millennials
April 15, 2024 at 2:54AM UTC

Asking for a raise can be a daunting and sweat-inducing task, even when you know you deserve one. While most professionals know they have grounds to ask for a raise when they’re exceeding performance targets or taking on a larger scope of work than originally hired for, there are other circumstances where it may be difficult to know if you have the justification for a raise.  

3 Times You Shouldn’t Ask For a Raise

1. Your company policy doesn’t allow for raises outside of title promotions or its annual performance/merit review cycle.

Some companies have strict policies around raises to ensure equity among its staff. You may not be able to negotiate a raise unless it’s directly tied to a promotion, which may not only be an increase in salary but an official change in title or scope of work (even if you have already been doing that work under your current title). 

It’s important to ask your supervisor or HR department for a copy of your employer’s compensation policy if they have one. If they don’t have one, ask your supervisor if the company has an informal policy. Even if there isn’t a documented policy, there may be an unofficial policy or company culture around raises you’ll need to learn and navigate.

2. You’re being paid equitably within the company but lower than what other employers pay for the same job.

You may have a common job function that is utilized across different industries, for example, HR Business Partner or Payroll Administrator, that pays very differently based on location, industry, company size, and volume of responsibilities. If you know you are paid equitably compared to your coworkers in the same or similar role and are paid in accordance with your job level and pay range — but know there are other companies paying higher salaries for the same job — this isn’t enough for you to ask for a raise. An HR Business Partner at company A may have fewer responsibilities than an HR Business Partner at company B. Not only that, those companies may serve different industries and have significantly different operating budgets that justify higher or lower salaries.

Every employer uses market data to develop its pay scales and will conduct compensation analyses to determine if their compensation strategy is competitive, but the salary ranges they use can vary greatly for several reasons. It’s important to be aware of how your role and company compare to others in the same sector before using competitor data as a justification for an increase. 

3. Change in cost of living due to voluntary relocation or inflation.

Should you voluntarily move to another city or country with a higher cost of living, this is not a strong enough justification to ask for a raise since the company didn’t require you to move to the more costly location. Typically, employers will have policies around pay and geographic location whether it’s based on market categories or percentages, so you’ll need to adhere to those policies. Should your employer request you to move to a location with a higher cost of living, then a cost of living adjustment is certainly justifiable.

Also, asking for a raise due to inflation like what the U.S. and rest of the globe is currently experiencing is not deemed acceptable because it’s an issue that impacts not just you, but a larger population across a geographic location or country. In this instance, employers may adjust their company-wide pay scales or bonus structures to ensure equity. 

The 1 Time You Asbolsutely Should Ask For a Raise

When you know you’re being paid inequitably compared to your colleagues.

If you are meeting or exceeding your performance targets and have verifiable information that you are being paid inequitably compared to your colleagues doing the same work, you have a strong justification to ask for a raise. This can be tricky though because you need to know what your coworkers are earning, their education, technical skills, professional experience and the details of their role in comparison to your own. If you’re equipped with this information then it’s time to go for that raise. Here’s some help on how to have that conversation.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Stephanie Mansueto is a San Diego-based Principal Recruiter for global professional services firm, Abt Associates, and a job hunting and interview coach for corporate millennials. Through her 1:1 Professional Prime job hunting program and The Confident Interviewer intensive, she teaches ambitious millennials how to effectively optimize their resume and LinkedIn profile, strategically network, confidently interview and negotiate a competitive compensation package to land their dream job. For more career advice and information on Stephanie’s coaching services visit www.smcareercoach.com. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

When do you think is the best time to ask for a raise? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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