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How to ask for a raise
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You also have to be a realist. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you say or how well you say it. If your company seems bent on getting the most while giving the least, setting unreachable goals, regularly changing the rules (or managers), rewarding favorites or managing through intimidation and fear, consider going elsewhere.

Before the meeting
"The worst thing you can do in negotiation is wing it," says Latz. You don't want to negotiate instinctively or intuitively, he says. "The best thing: Act strategically."

Once you've done your research, plan what you're going to say ahead of time. Decide what you want, both in money and perks. Be able to quickly articulate your past year's accomplishments and put a dollar figure on them, too.

Several tactics:

  • I've saved or made the company a specific amount of money. Why it works: You're pointing out "you already raised that money for them, and you'd just like a little part of it," Bolles says.
  • I'm successfully shouldering more than my job, which merits an increase. Why it works: It gives you leverage if the company decides that raises must stay within a set range. "Here's what you hired me for, here's what I'm doing now," says Thomas. The percentage policy "doesn't apply to me because I've got a new job here."
  • I'm a standout at the job, and my salary is at the lower end of the typical pay range. Why it works: You've demonstrated you know what you're worth and market forces, not need or greed, set the price.

Decide how much you want and what you're willing to accept. Whatever number comes out of your mouth first "locks in the upside," says Thomas.

If you suspect your boss is going to try to low-ball the money, is there anything else that would compensate, like extra vacation time, a more flexible schedule, work-at-home days, health club membership, options, bonuses, additional benefits, a different title or the proverbial parking spot?

Even if money's tight, "there may be other things for them to give," says Bates. "Find out what they are giving."

And, if you don't already know, learn the basics of job hunting. While a smart negotiator won't threaten to go elsewhere, just knowing what you're worth and that you have options will give you the confidence you need to bargain successfully for the money you want, says Bolles.

"You should not be going in to ask for a job with the air of a desperate job beggar," he says. "A person who wants to be good at asking for a raise has to first be good at job hunting.

"Job hunting, in today's world, is an actual survival skill." And it's learned, he adds, not innate.

Another effective tool: "Have a picture in your head of a successful interview for a raise," says Bolles. In negotiation, like sports, he says, "what you envision has strong, strong power."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy-- Posted: Sept. 14, 2005
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Quiz: Are you ready for a raise?
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Tips for successful salary negotiations

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