CN Digital StudioYou know you've earned it, now you've just got to go in and ask for it. Here's how.
Make the first move: Always keep this in the back of your mind: If you want a raise, you have to ask for one. "Believing that if we work hard we'll be rewarded for it is naïve," says Karen J. Pine, Ph.D., co-author of Sheconomics, a guide to finance for women. "Be proactive and make the first move."
Do your homework: "Talk to friends in similar industries to see what they're making, and read up on averages for your industry and level of experience on sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com," says Nicole Lapin, a financial expert and founder of Recessionista.com. The great thing about these sites is that they allow you to search geographically-salaries often vary depending on where you live.
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Aim realistically high: Don't go in with a "take what I can get" attitude-that kind of thinking only leads to disappointment. "You might have to negotiate downwards but no one is going to offer you more than you ask for, so start high," says Pine. If you've done your homework, you should have a good sense of what you should be making.
Timing is everything: Friday at 5:30 p.m., when your boss is trying to make her train, may not be the best time to bring up money. Instead, catch her when she's in a good mood-or even better, you've done something worthy of her recognition. "After you've received a reward, stellar performance review, or praise from a client is a great time to make your move," says Lapin. "Let your boss know that you want to speak with her 'today at her convenience,' which accommodates her busy schedule while putting a solid deadline on the conversation."
Gather evidence: Come to the meeting with a short but impressive list of your accolades and achievements. "Be prepared with specific examples of your stellar performance and positive feedback that you have received from colleagues and clients," says Lapin. Employers typically respond well to numbers, too. For example, if you quantify your contribution-the number of new clients you've acquired or an increase in sales on your accounts-do so.
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Be clear: If you love your job and want to grow in your role, say so. "Your employer will be more likely to invest in you if they see the raise as having long-term value," says Lapin.
Be a team player: Employers are also interested in how you work with the rest of the group. "Frame the discussion around your role within the company," says Lapin. "Think of yourself not as a single moving part, but as a valuable asset to the company at large."
Be respectful: At the end of your pitch, make sure to give your boss a moment to respond. "Let [her] know that you respect her opinion by concluding with 'what do you think?'" says Lapin. This is a great time to get a mini-review from her: any feedback she gives can be used in future negotiations.
Get creative: If your boss says a salary bump is absolutely out of the question, think of other ways the company can add value to your compensation. It could be in the form of stock options, a better healthcare package or even a chance to work from home once or twice a week. "Whatever you ask for, the point is to know your worth and to make work work for you," says Lapin.
Don't settle: If you've done all of the above and you still aren't getting anywhere, don't be discouraged. Try to get a future commitment in writing. If that's impossible as well, it might be time to start looking for a better-paying gig.
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