5 Tips to Help You Ask For a Raise

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Many of us become visibly nervous before engaging in career negotiations, especially if we’re asking for a raise. So how can we make sure we don’t psych ourselves out before asking our boss for more money?

According to a new survey by the social networking site LinkedIn, 39% of U.S. professionals get actively anxious before dealing with issues like a pay raise. That’s the highest percentage of any country surveyed, which may not be surprising considering the massive layoffs that happened during the Great Recession.

(MORE: How to Ask for More Money at Work)

A quarter of us have never even been through a bargaining situation at work, according to the survey. So how do we put ourselves in the best possible position to get the most money out of our jobs? Stacey Carroll, director of professional services at Payscale.com, offers some advice.

1. It’s not personal

It’s easy to get emotionally wrapped up in how you feel you’re being valued at work. But remember, for your boss, salaries are more of an organizational and business decision than a personal one.

“If you can kind of step back from the emotional part of it, that’ll help you negotiate with a level head,” says Carroll.

2. Know your position’s salary range

Before you step into your boss’s office, make sure you know what employees make who have your level of experience and are in a similar position. Some professionals tend to ask their own friends and colleagues, but that’s not always the most reliable indicator. Instead, check your own human resources department, which often has salary ranges on file. You can also check sites like payscale.com, which crowd-sources salaries.

3. Schedule a meeting toward the end of the week

The worst thing you can do is pop into your boss’s office unexpectedly with a request for more money, so you’ve got to get the timing right. First, schedule a meeting with your boss – at least several days in advance, and don’t set it up at the end of a quarter, when employers are often under more financial pressure. “Think about the timing,” says Carroll, “and be mindful of the manager’s schedule.”

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4. Make your case

If you’re asking for more money, hopefully you deserve it. But maybe your employer doesn’t realize that. So before a meeting, write out a list of your key accomplishments within the last six months or over the last year. “Your boss is likely trying to manage a bunch of different people, so you have to make a really strong case,” says Carroll. “You need evidence of your accomplishments to make a compelling argument.”

5. Don’t worry if you don’t get it this time

There’s almost no harm in asking for more money (unless you do it inappropriately, which means you weren’t reading tips one through four). In fact, Carroll says she believes it shows an employee’s determination and drive, which may help you down the road. “Very rarely will you find a manager who will be totally dismissive,” she says. “There’s nothing to lose if you do it in a respectful way.” If it doesn’t work out this time, you’ll at least know how the process works and what you need to prepare yourself for next time.