When you first joined the company, the salary was decent. You could pay for all your basic necessities, treat yourself to some of the finer things in life and still have a bit leftover to save.

But as time went by, life just kept getting more and more expensive. Everything from water and MRT fares to restaurant prices and COE went up. And suddenly, you realised the only thing that hadn’t budged was your salary.

So how do you know whether you can reasonably ask for a raise without your boss bursting a blood vessel or laughing in your face? Here are 6 things that signal it’s totally time to ask for more.

 

 

You’ve been in the company for long enough

 

There’s a very good reason recruitment agents advise you not stay in the same job for more than 3 years—and it’s not just because they get commission for hooking you up with a new employer.

Staying in the same company for too long can depress your wages. The average increment expected in 2017 is about 4%. That means there’s a significant number of people getting less than a 4% increment or, worse, no increment at all. Changing jobs should be able to net you an increment of at least 10%, and some people manage to bag increments of 20% to 30%.

So no matter how much you love your employer, staying there for too long is a financial liability—and they know it.

If you’ve been in the company for more than 3 years and you feel your increments aren’t adequate, it’s totally reasonable to ask for a raise. If your boss says no, he probably just doesn’t like you that much and would be happy to see you go.

 

 

You’re paid less than your coworkers doing the same thing

 

In the companies I previously worked at, I often discovered rampant wage discrimination amongst secretaries and paralegals.

One firm paid its foreign paralegals almost half of what it was paying local ones. Another one paid secretaries differently based on when they were hired—those who were hired when they desperately needed someone managed to bargain their salaries to be even higher than their colleagues who had 10 years more experience than them.

Unless you’re a civil servant, there’s a very good chance you’re not being the same wage as coworkers with the same job title and a similar amount of experience.

In the event that you’re being paid less than your coworkers who’re doing the same thing, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that your boss at least match their pay, especially if your performance is on par with or better than theirs.

 

 

You’re being paid much less than market rate

 

Companies do not all pay the same salary for the same job. Bigger companies can usually afford to pay more, while there may be other benefits such better work-life balance or the right to work from home that might convince workers to take on a job in a company that pays less.

But if you are very sure that you are being paid inequitably less than market rate, by all means speak with your boss about it and ask for a raise. It’s one thing to offer a reasonable salary that just happens to be less than what the MNCs are paying. It’s another to try to rip off your employees by paying them as little as possible.

 

Your company is doing well

 

Thanks to your and your colleagues’ hard work, the company is doing better than ever.

Well, now is a good time to ask for a raise. When times are good, bosses are buoyed by the psychological boost of healthy profits, the feeling of a job well done and optimism about the future, and more likely to say yes.

Conversely, if the company isn’t doing well financially, you’re probably better off leaving the sinking ship than trying to ask to be paid more.

 

 

You’ve acquired new skills or qualifications

 

You’re a very different person from who you were when you first joined the company. More specifically, you’ve worked on upgrading yourself over the years, and now have skills and qualifications that make you a more valuable employee. In fact, if you were to join another company, they’d pay you more than what you’re paying paid now.

That’s as good a reason as any to ask for a raise, especially if your annual increments haven’t reflected your rise in value.

 

You’ve got another job offer

 

Sometimes, no matter how much you like your present employer, you just can’t afford to continue working for them. So you go out and look for work elsewhere, and bag an offer with a much more attractive salary.

Before you cut the cord and set yourself free, it’s always worthwhile checking to see if your present employer wouldn’t want to try matching the job offer. But don’t go about it in an obnoxious way, or they’ll be more than happy to see you go.

 

This story first appeared on Moneysmart, 22nd May 2017.