Like much in life there are more and less effective ways to ask for raises and I’m going to share with you one of the best — and, apparently, less known tips for getting a good raise if you work for a big corporation: Ask for your raise at the right time of the year.

Your Company Has a Process

Big companies have processes for everything, and that includes performance reviews and raises. Suzanne Lucas of the blog Evil HR Lady explains the process most corporations use in her post You Only Have 24 Days to Ask for a Raise. There’s a cycle that starts late in the year. Your boss writes your review, gets it approved, finds out how much money she has to spread among her team for raises and bonuses, parcels the money out, then gets approval for those decisions. This whole affair takes a couple month. And smart managers start thinking about appraisals in October. They may have many employees whom they need to evaluate and there are three big holidays coming up, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

So the ball will begin to roll very, very soon.

Once the Elephant Starts to Move ...

Once the process begins, it’s hard — perhaps impossible — to re-route it. So it’s essential you talk to your boss soon about your performance and your raise.

Take charge. Drive the bus. Be proactive.

  • Research salaries in your company and in your field. Ruthlessly evaluate your contributions to the company. Among your peers do you rank near the top? In the middle? At the bottom? Develop a figure to aim for. Make it realistic.
  • Arrange a one-on-one meeting with your boss.
  • Go fully prepared. Take a document outlining your accomplishments year to date. Do NOT assume she remembers all the fabulous things you’ve done. This document will help support your raise request and it will also help ensure none of your contributions fall through the cracks when your boss starts writing your appraisal.
  • Discuss calmly with your boss why you deserve a raise and tell her how much you deserve. Ask for her buy-in. If she indicates your figure is not attainable, ask her what you’d need to do to get that amount.

“The Last Temptation ...”

Good Reasons For a Raise:

  • Your accomplishments and contributions are outstanding compared to your peers.
  • Your salary is low compared to peers, inside or outside the company, who have similar skills and experience, and who make similar contributions.

Bad Reasons for a Raise:

  • You need or want more money.
  • You have a vague feeling you “deserve” more money.

This is a business discussion. Be businesslike. Your boss doesn’t care how your feel or what you want. She cares about what you produce.

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And let me add a word to the wise about accomplishments: Accomplishments save money or make money for the company. They are things you’ve done above and beyond the baseline expectations of your job. If you truly cannot think of any accomplish,nets you’ve made this year, you may need to re-think how you do your job and whether a better-than-average raise is a realistic goal this time around.

In Conclusion

When your boss delivers your performance review in 2018 it’s way too late to discuss your raise. Do it now while you have time to influence the decision

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Of course, if your company uses a different cycle for appraisals and raises, adjust your timeline. It’s absolutely essential that you understand your company’s process. If you don’t know it now, find out ... while there’s still time!