Six Moves to Make More Money

Kate Lorenz,

So you've been with your company for a while and have been exceeding all of your manager's expectations. You work hard, are a great team player, come up with new ideas to take the business further and are an all-around joy in the workplace.

If you haven't been promoted or been bumped up in salary automatically, it might be time to take the bull by the horns and approach this topic yourself. While asking for a raise makes many people uncomfortable and nervous, the situation can be a breeze if handled correctly.

The following are a few steps to follow to make sure your request does not fall on deaf ears:

1. Do your research.
Like any other element of your career, it all starts with research. In order to present your manager with a compelling case in your favor, you need to know what the going rate is for someone with your experience and in your position. You can find out what others in your industry and in comparable positions are raking in by looking at online resources, through the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or in books like The American Almanac of Jobs and Salaries by John W. Wright (Quill).

2. Outline a case for yourself.
When going into any kind of negotiation session, you need to be equipped with the right amount of ammunition. Before you walk into your meeting, look back at your time with the company and highlight your accomplishments. Come up with a list of specific examples of ways you have been a valuable asset to the business. Find facts and figures that demonstrate that you have excelled, using numbers whenever possible. For example, if you developed a marketing plan that helped increase sales, make sure you have those sales figures on hand, as well as your role in the plan and its execution. Be sure to tie your own success into the overall success of the company. If you really want to knock their socks off, put your accomplishments into a formal presentation, albeit brief, that outlines each of your goals and how you have achieved them. This will demonstrate that you are professional, willing to go the extra mile, and have thought about your request thoroughly.

3. Know what's going on in your neighborhood.
There are good times and bad times to ask for a raise at any company. If you approach your manager for a raise in a time of downsizing and cost cutting, you will not only be denied, but will also show that you are not in tune with the company's needs. Make sure you understand your company's overall financial situation.

4. Schedule ample time to present your case, and make sure your timing is right.
Asking for a raise on the fly after just walking into your manager's office to chat will not benefit you or impress your boss. Make sure you have time to present your case, and that your manager has time to think about your presentation. Request a meeting with your supervisor, at least a half-hour long. Think about your timing when you schedule the meeting, too. If your department has a bevy of deadlines to meet at the end of each month, don't schedule your meeting on the 29th. Pick a time when your manager will be sure to be in a good mood and not overly stressed.

5. Avoid threats or demands.
The last thing you want to do is put your supervisor on the defensive. Going into a meeting with the "if I don't get it, I'm leaving" attitude will only tell your company you are uncompromising and only out for number one. Be professional and, if your job is worth keeping, willing to listen to the other side. Keep the meeting positive and your outcome will be more positive.

6. Remember that not all perks are monetary.
If your company is strapped financially but you and your manager still come to the conclusion that it is time for you to be rewarded for your performance, you might be able to negotiate for other perks, such as stock options, more vacation time or other non-monetary benefits. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you are not valued if you do not get exactly what you had expected. 

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