Too Early To Ask For a Raise? And Other Sticky Money Questions

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By Robert Half

Let's say you're an accountant who started a job six months ago. Ever since you arrived, your boss and colleagues have been raving about your performance. They love you! In light of their adoration, you start to wonder if your starting salary isn't a tad too low. Is it too early to ask for a raise? Read on for the answer to that question and other sticky money-related quandaries.

The ifs and whens of asking for a raise
Although you shouldn't undersell yourself, six months is usually too soon to ask for a raise. As much as your manager loves you, she or he may wonder about your judgment -- and egotism -- if you want more money after only half a year on the job. It's best to wait a year or so before making the case for a raise so you have a strong track record of success behind you. (One potential exception, however, is if your job has changed significantly since you were hired.)

In the meantime, keep building a case for a pay increase. Continue doing your best, be a team player and, in general, make yourself indispensable.

Also do your homework before meeting with the boss. Get an estimate of what others in your field with similar qualifications earn using the Robert Half Salary Guide. How does your salary compare?

When the time to ask for a raise does come along, you will have hard evidence showing you deserve higher compensation -- and your manager will be much more likely to say yes.

A disappointing bonus
It's the end of the year, and your holidays have been soured by a lower-than-expected bonus. Should you say something?

In this slow economic recovery, bonuses are not a sure thing. Even though pay freezes and furloughs are largely behind us, you may not get the merit bonus you feel you deserve.

Griping about it might not accomplish a whole lot, but that doesn't mean you can't make a tactful inquiry. It may have been an oversight or miscalculation. Or your manager may tell you that your smaller-than-expected bonus was the result of average or below-average work. If that's the case, ask what you need to do to earn the full amount next time.

New hire's higher salary
You've been at the same job for several years and just found out that you're being paid significantly less than a new hire who shares your job description and title. You feel angry and betrayed, and have a good mind to tell your boss how unfair it is. Should you?

As frustrating as this situation is, never let anger and jealousy cloud your better judgment. Take some deep breaths. Remember, you don't know the whole story. Perhaps this new employee has unique skills, background or experiences that make him or her particularly valuable to the company.

Besides, asking for a raise based on someone else's salary isn't the best way to impress your boss; you'll come across as more petty or resentful than deserving. Remember that the ideal time to ask for a raise is after you've developed a long-term record of contributing to the company.

Ideal job but low pay
You've just been offered your dream job, but the pay is lower than what you were hoping for. Should you try to negotiate a higher salary?

Yes! In fact, many companies expect candidates to negotiate. If you already have a job, you're in an especially powerful negotiating position. Take the time to research your market value with the Robert Half Salary Guide and Salary Calculator, and then make a reasonable request based on your findings. You'll never get a better offer unless you ask.

The bottom line when it comes to asking for a raise and other compensation-related questions is to do your research and speak up -- but always be tactful and gracious. You may also need to be patient. No matter how brilliant your accounting skills are, your interpersonal skills have a lot to do with how successful you are in this area of your career.

Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit For additional career advice, read our blog at or follow us on social media at
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