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How to ask for a raise

Want a raise? Be prepared to do a little research and some discreet sleuthing before you ask.

"Information is power, so get it," says Martin Latz, author of "Gain the Edge!"

Here's what you need to know:

  • What are you worth on the open market?
  • How much are co-workers in similar jobs getting paid?
  • And how is the company doing financially?

    If it's annual review time, don't expect the money to come floating down from the sky. "It's critical for employees not to expect the employer to negotiate for them," says Jim Thomas, author of "Negotiate to Win." The interests of the boss and worker "diverge where money is concerned."

    That means you have to make a strong case for what you're worth and bargain to get it.

    What am I worth?
    Your company puts a value on you as an employee by what they pay you. So your question is: How much have you saved them in the past year? How much business have you generated?

    Ideally, you keep a weekly journal in which you detail how you went above and beyond for your job, says Richard Bolles, author of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" Once a week, write down "the extraordinary things," he says.

    These notes will form the basis of your argument that you are worth more money. "Bosses have a selective memory, particularly when it's time for a salary review, and they tend to focus on the negative," says Thomas.

    If you're not keeping a work diary, start one for next year. Are you putting in extra hours and doing more work? Are there any work projects where you went over and above? Did you take any classes on your own time to improve your work performance? Pitch in as a volunteer for the company charity project? Are you the go-to person for anything? Did you bring in new clients or enable the company to accomplish anything with fewer employees and save money?

    Try to put a number to the business you've generated or money you've saved.

    Find out what the industry range is for people in your job. For the answer to this one, you can contact the local branch of your professional organization, call a headhunter, or hit a site such as www.salary.com or a couple of the job boards.

    "There's always a range," says Sunny Bates, author of "How to Earn What You're Worth." "If you're a star performer making low-range, then it doesn't matter that they are giving 3 percent. You have to find a way to get more."

    Look around the office. How much are they paying people who do the same job? Are they shouldering the same work load? Do they have a similar success rate? And what about the rule that many companies have about discussing salaries? There's a reason they want to keep you in the dark. Keep discussions informal and tap friends in the company, if you have any. If you don't yet have a network, use industry figures.

    Maneuvering road blocks
    Expect a "no," and be prepared to deal with it.

    Next: "Wing it, and you could cause yourself lasting damage."
    Page | 1 | 2 | 3 |
    Quiz: Are you ready for a raise?
    And if you don't get the raise?
    Tips for successful salary negotiations

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