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How to ask for a raise
pay raise
Asking for a raise will go much easier if you arrive for the meeting prepared to sell yourself. - photo by Studio photo

As the economy has struggled over the last several years, many employees have felt happy to have a job, no matter what it pays. However, for those who feel they have been doing an exemplary job at work, they shouldn't let the economy prevent them from asking for a raise they deserve.

Chances are employers are not going to walk up to employees and offer them pay raises. After all, bosses are in the business of having the company operate at the least possible cost. Men and women who want a raise should recognize that it is their responsibility to approach higher-ups about a pay increase.

Asking for a raise can put employees on edge and raise a couple of questions. What is the best way to approach the topic? What if the boss decides against a pay increase? What is a reasonable salary? Preparing for a meeting with a supervisor is essential for men and women about to request a raise.

* Research what others in your position are being paid. There are a number of salary calculators available online that will provide a good indication of the regional pay rate for a particular job description. Compare a few of them and take the average. Print out these salary rates and bring them with you to the meeting.

* Calculate how long you have been working at the company. It generally costs more money for an employer to replace an employee — even if the new one will be paid less than you — rather than just giving you a raise. That's because there is the potential of lost business and productivity should you choose to leave the company. Hiring and training takes time. If you have been with the organization for quite some time, that should work in your favor, as it shows loyalty and the boss can review your lengthy work history. Be prepared to say how much you enjoy working for the company and indicate your long-standing record for getting the job done.

• Determine the financial position of the company first. You can probably get a good indication of how well the business is doing based on happenings around the office. If the employer has eliminated jobs, merged jobs, taken away incentives or other morale boosters like office parties, or done anything else that might be indicative of financial struggles, you may want to wait until things level out before asking for a raise.

• Practice your sales pitch. Sit down and go over all of the reasons why you deserve a raise. Think about what proof you can use to support your request. If yours is a sales-based job, offer a spreadsheet that shows how many sales you have made. For recruiters, show how much new business you have brought in. If you have any customer testimonials, present them as well. To get a raise you have to sell yourself. Don't think of it as making threats or ultimatums. An employer is smart enough to realize that, if you are asking for a raise, you could be unhappy with your current situation.

• Think about how you will react if the raise is turned down. Perhaps asking for a raise is the last step before looking for a new job. You might stay if you get more money, but leave if your request is denied. Maybe you have a comfortable enough relationship with your boss that you can ask when might be the right time for a raise, or when you can broach the subject again. Also, there is the opportunity to negotiate: If I cannot get a pay increase, are there any other benefits I can receive, such as better health insurance, gym membership, covered child care expenses, or some other benefit that isn't financial?

• Choose a good time for an appointment with your boss. Wait until deadlines are over or after your supervisor has returned from a vacation. You want an uninterrupted time to sit down and present your case when there will be no distractions. After all, you want him or her relaxed and in a good mood, which will only improve your chances of getting what you want.

Asking for a raise can sometimes be uncomfortable. However, for employees who think they are going above and beyond at work, they should state their cases for a raise.

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