When is it okay to ask for a raise? (and how to do it tactfully)

Sure, they say money can’t buy you happiness … but let’s be real here. We would all love if our bosses paid us more than we make now.

This is true whether you consider yourself just a halfway decent employee, or even more so if you feel like (or know for sure!) you work your butt off on a regular basis without being compensated enough. No matter what your situation, a hefty raise is what dreams are made of!

However, reality is cold in comparison to that dream.

Instead of getting raises at a somewhat predictable frequency, what’s much more typical is hard working employees just keep their heads down, do their work and wonder if they’ll ever get a pay bump. And to be fair, it’s not a surprise why; as much as any company might value its employees, their primary interest will likely always be to stay in business and to maximize profits – giving out raises all the time doesn’t directly help them do that, so they don’t (unless they really want to retain you).

Therefore, most of the time, a hard-working employee’s main chance for ever getting a raise is to bring up the subject themselves.

The question is then…when is it an okay time to ask for a raise?

Done cleverly, you might land the raise you’ve wanted all along. But what could also happen is you could fall on your face and not get a single penny added to your salary if you do it at the wrong time or for the wrong reason. Below are 7 scenarios that shed light on if it’s a smart time to ask for a raise… and how to broach the subject, if it is.

6 situations that are great opportunities to ask for a raise:

1. You just crushed your goal(s)

If you just brought on a big new client, effectively implemented an important piece of technology, or designed a process that has saved the company tons of time and money, get your hand out! Cashing in when you’re fresh off a commendable accomplishment is an ideal way to get your salary bumped.

How to do it: Meet with your boss, outline your specific contributions, and how they resulted in exceeding the goal. Include concrete numbers whenever possible.

2. Your pay is lower than the pay range for your role

Some companies set up pay ranges for certain jobs. Perhaps you didn’t have much experience when you started, or some other reason caused you to accept a lower salary and your pay doesn’t match up with your pay grade today. If you’ve been doing your job well for a solid amount of time, but your salary is below or at the bottom of the pay grade for the work that you’ve been doing, it’s time to consider asking for a raise.

How to do it: Point out your salary and pay grade to your manager and request to be moved into the pay range that’s appropriate for the role and responsibilities that you’ve taken on.

3. You’ve recently accepted more responsibility

If you’ve taken over projects from someone else or stepped into a higher role, you deserve to be compensated for your increase in productivity.

How to do it: Show your manager how much more you have on your plate and how you’re managing it. Ask for additional compensation for your efforts.

4. Your company is stable

If a company just lost a big account, is a new startup that is still trying to become profitable, or is going through a merger, this might not be the right time to ask for a pay increase because even if your boss really wanted to hear you out. If, however, your organization is stable and profitable, the time may be right to get .

How to do it: Explain you have waited to ask until the company is stable, and you would like your hard work and dedication to be rewarded.

5. You haven’t had a raise in over a year

Periodic increases are the best way to increase your salary in the long-term. Don’t let years trickle by without a raise.

How to do it: Point out to your manager the date of your last raise. Discuss your performance and ask for a bump in pay.

6. You’ve been offered another opportunity

Using this one means walking a very fine line, because once you tell your current employer that you’ve received another opportunity and are considering it, they might simply be done with you send you on your way without further conversation about pay. This is exactly why you should NEVER say you have a job offer if you don’t actually have one, by the way. However, if you’ve gauged the situation well and your current company really does want to keep you, a legitimate outside job opportunity could be exactly the right push needed to get you a nice little pay bump.

How to do it: Meet with your manager and tell him/her about your new job offer. Express your genuine interest in staying at your company, so long as certain things happen… including a raise.

Knowing when and in what situation to ask for a raise is essential in stacking the odds in your favor. If one of these scenarios sounds like the situation you’re in, plan your strategy and don’t delay in getting in front of your boss to make your case for a raise.

This article was originally published on Kununu.