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If you are known as a person who gets things done, one who takes on additional responsibility outside of your job descriptions with a positive “can-do” attitude; if you are one who others look to for advice and leadership and are constantly increasing your knowledge of your area of work and your industry, you may be a good candidate for a pay increase.

This is especially true if you would be described by others as indispensable to the company, one who consistently delivers exceptional results.

But first, do your homework:

Is your pay above, below, or in-line with counterparts at other companies? You may wish to look at job postings that have salaries listed for the type of work that you do. Are there others in your company with the same job description as you? What do they earn?

Next, how is your company doing financially? Is it showing a loss, at breakeven, showing a small profit? Or is the company expanding because revenues have constantly been increasing, along with profit margin?

Obviously, if the company is in a negative position, revenues are dropping, profitability is down, or the company is losing market share, to ask for a raise is a losing proposition. If the company is expanding market share, with growing revenues and profits, you are in a much better position.

Second, prepare yourself:

“The worst thing you can do is base a request for a raise on personal issues,” says Bill Coleman, senior vice president for compensation at Salary.com. “Saying ‘I need a raise because I have a gambling problem’ is a loser. It is also a bad idea to ask for a raise if the company is having layoffs.”

Coleman continues, “Superstars can get a raise because the company must retain its best performers. If you are not sure you are among the elite, you’re not,” Coleman says.

Prepare yourself to make a positive presentation to your boss. Make a results-oriented list of your accomplishments and achievements that illustrates why you should be considered for a raise in pay. What did you streamline, or make more efficient? How have you helped the company grow? What problems did you solve? What revenues did you bring in? What customer problems did you solve? Show percentages or numbers for credibility. For example:

Streamlined the customer relationship process. Result: Increased efficiency by 17%.

Opened new key account with major customer. Result: Revenues grew from $12,344 to $66,387, and are still growing.

Noted discrepancy in the accounts payable process. Result: Recovered $8,233 from a vendor that had been paid twice.

Third, schedule an appointment with your boss. Show your boss that you are serious about asking for a raise. Treat it as a business meeting. Make sure you have the full attention of your boss. Do not discuss your raise with him or her by email, at the water cooler, or via telephone (unless you are in different geographic locations).

Make sure the amount of raise you ask for is reasonable, and in line with your research. If others in your line of work are making $20 per hour, and you are presently making $17.50, don’t ask for $24, ask for $21, and compromise at $20. Life is often a compromise.

Fourth, decide what to do if you are not successful. Ask what you can do for the boss to approve a raise for you. Is there a project or an assignment that your boss may want completed? Are there performance issues on your part? What changes do you need to make?

You may even suggest completing certain tasks or projects over the next few weeks or months, and ask that if those are completed in a timely, productive and effective manner, could your pay increase at some time in the future?

If you have decided that you will you start looking for another job, make sure you keep this one until you land another one. Remember, the perception is that if you are presently working, you are worth more. And in today’s economic climate, finding another job is not easy, even for the most talented.

Make your request reasonable: If you were the boss, would you be satisfied with your performance? Are you a positive and productive team player? Do you present a positive and stellar image? Are you worth more?

Remember that if your company cannot grant your request for a raise at the present time, you may wish to negotiate increased benefits, vacation, or even an enhanced job title. These may be items that your employer is willing to discuss in place of a higher salary.

Further, it never hurts to diplomatically engage in some on-going self promotion. Without bragging, what can you do to let senior management know how productive you are? Can you periodically draft a “White Paper” of your effectiveness, your accomplishments, and discuss those with your boss? Talk to the human resources department, and ask that your “White Paper” be placed in your personnel file. Let management know that you are excited about your work, about the company, and are determined to make an ongoing contribution.

Richard M. Knappen is president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California.

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