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The Best Months to Ask for a Raise

Asking for a raise can often feel like trying to get on a moving merry-go-round: You raise your leg a couple of times trying to find your entry point, then chicken out and wander off to find some cotton candy.

Martin Rogers | Getty Images

Well, you might want to wrap up that cotton candy and wipe your hands because it’s time to start taking this merry-go-round seriously.

“If you’re a valued employee, this may be the year to start angling for a raise,” says professional-networking site LinkedIn.

LinkedIn crunched the numbers and found out that the months that most raises are handed out are January, June and July. That means your best entry point is in the weeks — or even a month — before that.

Marie McIntyre, a career coach and author of “The Secrets to Winning at Office Politics,”says January is probably the top month for raises because most companies operate on the calendar year and have a fresh budget to spend.

Likewise, June and July are likely due to the fact that some companies end their fiscal year in June. That thesis is supported by the fact that in India, the best month for raises is April, which is when the fiscal year typically starts there.

The summer months are also popular with some professions like accounting, as it’s after their busy season. In January, that’s just when tax season is revving up, so accountants are working long hours to see clients, with no time to worry about administrative tasks like raises.

Armed with the knowledge of when the best months for raises are certainly helps, but you can’t just walk in there and ask for a raise, citing January as your reason.

“You have to know the state of your company’s finances,” McIntyre said. “Don’t ask for a raise when your company just had a rotten quarter and is pondering layoffs.” Make sure that your company has the money to give out, otherwise you look like an out-of-touch buffoon who doesn’t deserve it.

Second, you have to come in prepared with a list of your accomplishments. If you can prove that the company has the money and you deserve it, you have a decent chance of getting a raise.

“Don’t just ask for a raise when you’ve suddenly had some big financial issue,” McIntyre said. “If you need more money, that’s never a good reason to ask for a raise!”

McIntyre suggests doing your homework, not only on how your company’s latest earnings were and what your accomplishments are, but also what the standard pay for your job is. One way to do that is using salary sites like Payscale.com or GetRaised.com.

Also: don’t forget about your human resources department.

“People in big companies often underuse their HR department,” she said. “But they have pay grades, salary bands — and they’ll be able to tell you where you fall,” which will help you figure out where you need to go.

“When you ask for a raise, you can’t just go in there and blurt it out,” McIntyre cautioned. “Do it at the right time, in the right way – and do it with your data evidence.”

And, once you’ve successfully asked for a raise, it will be just like a merry-go-round: Ooh, ooh, can we go again?!

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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