Now’s the time to ask for a raise

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Fiscal clocks have been reset, budgets replenished. ‘Course, the economy’s looking like my kid just before she hurls—but even that might work to your advantage, as the barf hasn’t yet hit the fan. Come summer, it may be too late.

Brad Karsh of Ad Age offers these five tips to a raise-request strategy; they’re geared for the ad exec, but I think his points apply pretty broadly.

1. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WORTH.

Get the facts and figures to justify your request for more pay. Check out websites that have salary information. Do some research to see what people in your position typically earn. Speak with your colleagues and check out recruitment ads. If you realize that in Chicago, your job typically commands between $45,000 and $55,000 and you’re only at $40,000 — it’s much easier to make your case.

2. PROVE YOU DESERVE THE MONEY.

The best way to do this is to bring in your accomplishments and what you plan to do to earn your new salary. It makes your case even stronger if you can say, “I helped us win X account, which brought in more than $3 million in incremental revenue. In addition, I will be managing a team of 20 this year, so I believe I have earned a raise of $20,000.”

3. TALK TO THE RIGHT PERSON AT THE RIGHT TIME.

Your boss might not be the one who determines whether you get a raise. You want to do whatever you can to state your case directly to the decision maker. Similarly, you want to talk about a raise in a private meeting where there are no other distractions or business to talk about.

4. BE DIRECT, CONCISE AND ASSERTIVE.

Too many people beat around the bush or sound too wishy-washy when it comes time to actually ask for the money. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to prepare yourself.

CANDIDATE A: “Well, I know times are tough, and you probably have a lot of deserving people around here, so I was hoping, if it’s possible, that I might be able to get a raise?”

CANDIDATE B: “Lori, as you know, I’ve been a critical member of our team. In the past year, I’ve solely managed the X account, eliminated our billing discrepancies and filled in for two employees on maternity leave. I think you’d agree that I deserve a raise.”

Who would you give the raise to?

5. KNOW YOUR COMPANY.

Requesting a raise isn’t always the only or even best way to get more money. Since promotions usually come with more money, requesting a promotion may be easier. As for counteroffers, sometimes even the thought that you’re interviewing can spur a company to give you a raise. But proceed with caution. Some companies may see this as a way to kick you to the curb.

Before having the money talk, also evaluate your level of job satisfaction. Consider creative options and other benefits to improve your situation if your salary is non-negotiable. Might an extra week of vacation or the ability to work from home make you just as happy?

Ask for a raise the right way, and you stand a good chance of getting the money you deserve.

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