There’s a right time, place and way to go about asking for a pay rise. Make sure you know the standard procedure within your organisation – for example, if your company has an appraisal system, this would be the appropriate forum in which to make your case, and may coincide with your annual performance review time. If pay awards are formalised on an annual basis where you work, you may need to start building your case six months or so beforehand, to make sure managers are aware of your specific claim. Miss your window, and you may have to wait another 12 months for a hearing.
It goes almost without saying that you should think twice about asking for a pay rise if there’s an ongoing recruitment freeze, redundancy process or financial problems where you work. You are also likely to get short shrift from your manager if you approach them during a major project or before an important deadline.
On the flip side, if your company has just had a big success, and particularly if you have played a crucial part in that success, you may have a much better chance of getting a hearing. But even in this case, you need good evidence of outstanding work ready, to avoid being seen as jumping on the bandwagon and cashing in on other people's efforts.