How Often Should You Get a Raise?

Most companies provide pay raises once a year.
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It’s that time of the year again when you sit in your boss's office and talk about the past year's performance. You discuss whether you met expectations and what you can do to improve. You’re probably hoping to get a pay raise, but you might wonder why it’s only once a year or if your company is even paying you enough for the work you do. You might even have a friend who does similar work and makes more than you, but she might work for a company that pays higher than average or maybe her experience is different. In any case, it’s up to you to look out for yourself and determine if you’re being properly compensated.


    Your compensation should reflect the nature of the work you do and your performance. Most jobs have a salary range that is based on the education and experience required and any risks involved. Before you apply for any job, do some research to determine the salary range. If you get a job offer, you might have room to negotiate if the pay is not in that range. And while you’ll have the opportunity to work toward a pay raise, you’ll probably only be given an increase once a year. But, keep an eye out for advancement opportunities. Getting a promotion is one way to get an increase outside of the standard annual review process.

Annual Reviews

    If your performance has been satisfactory, you’ll probably get a small pay increase during your annual review. This raise is a way for the company to reward you for your performance and to retain you as a company employee. According to the U.S. Compensation Planning Survey, the average pay raise in 2011 was 2.9 percent. That average, of course, can change from year to year depending on the overall health of your industry and the broader economy. If it’s your first year of employment, you might get additional increases as you meet certain requirements, but after the first year, you’ll probably be put on an annual increase program.


    You might be hoping for a raise if you think you are being underpaid for the work you do. If this is the case, you should bring this up to your boss in a formal, private meeting and discuss your concern in a polite manner. The best approach is to have data that compares your salary to the average pay of people in your field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to find salary information based on data collected from employers in all industry segments in every state in the country. Keep in mind that pay will vary based on where you live due to the cost of living and variations in state laws and government policies.

Meeting Goals

    If you are hoping to get an annual pay increase, you need to make sure that your performance meets your company’s expectations. Your boss should establish goals for you, and you work toward them during the year. If you want a more significant raise, then you’ll need to exceed expectations and prove that you deserve more. Some companies may have a standard increase allowance, so you should ask your boss or human resources representative to clarify.

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