How to ask for a raise

You work hard for the money, honey. It’s time to ask the boss for a little more

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Be realistic
Just because you’re at your desk before 9, work over your lunch hour and leave after the CEO, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to more moo­­lah. “Most people tend to over­estimate the value of their contributions relative to what they’re paid,” says the Toronto-based author and career guru Barbara Moses. However, if you’ve made significant accomplishments that have added value to the business (say, you’ve successfully completed a difficult assignment, developed major cost-saving measures, exceeded yearly sales quotas in record time or consistently gone above and beyond your day-to-day duties), you should go for it.

Time it well
“There are better times and worse times to ask for a raise,” Moses says. “If your boss is freaking out because of work overload, if a big client walks or if it’s a Monday morning, it’s not a good time. Choose a time when they’ll be more receptive to your request.” Not only will you want to do it when your manager will be relaxed, you’ll want to pick a time that works for you, too, such as during a very flattering performance review.

Be prepared
“Planning carefully and tackling this like a project is essential,” says Barbara Quinn, a career counsellor and author in Vancouver. Before your meeting, make a list of the reasons why you should be making more money, then do a little research and pull market data of salaries for similar jobs. Bring all the notes and paperwork you prepared, focus on your talent and accomplishments and provide your manager with a raise range; about 10 to 15 percent of your base salary is recommended. You’ll impress your supervisor if you present your case intelligently and professionally.

Avoid these don’ts
Don’t make it personal; your super­visor doesn’t need to know you’ve racked up major credit-card debt that you need to pay off. Don’t dress up for the occasion if you normally wear jeans to work; it’s old-fashioned, and managers see right through it. Don’t bring up what co-workers are getting paid; it’s none of your business. And unless you have a real job offer on the table from another employer, don’t throw the idea out there to use as leverage. “It’s extraordinarily tacky to pretend you have an offer when you don’t,” says Moses. “If you do and you’re a good performer, they’ll usually want to match or exceed the offer.”

Have a Plan B
If your boss simply says there’s no money in the budget to give you a raise, be prepared to negotiate. If she really can’t increase your bottom line, don’t threaten to quit. Instead, ask for a trip to a conference, an extra week of vacation, a new assignment, educational training or industry-related workshops, a title change or other bonuses or perks. This will keep you going until the next best time to ask for more dough comes up.