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Five ways to get a raise

How to ask for a raise

With layoffs and corporate downsizing in the news, you may think a raise is out of the question. But even though experts say we are in a down economy, billions of dollars change hands regularly in America.

Woman asking for a raise

1Show and tell

Prepare convincing documentation that shows how you have made or saved the company money, so your employer can see what a good investment it is for the company to keep you on board and well compensated, despite the economy.

2Increase your value

Search out fast and free (or low cost) training that will boost your earning power. Employers will pay more if you can bring more skills to the table and fill a need they would otherwise have to hire someone else to handle. A few places to check: employer-sponsored training, Internet courses at sites like this one, the American Management Association , your local community college or the local library or bookstore. Remember, learning a new skill is more important than where you learn it

3Be creative

If funds for salary increases are tight, there may be other options that are easier for your employer to offer, but still help your bottom line. For example, better benefits such as including family in full medical if they aren't already covered, use of a company vehicle or company stock.

4Make a deal they can't refuse

No, not a Sopranos-style raise! Suggest a bonus that ties in to more money or productivity for the company as well. It can be based on meeting a personal target or a company-wide goal, but either way, it means the company wins, too, when you get more money. Something most savvy employers will see the benefit of offering, even when times are tough.

5Give yourself a raise

If the business you work for has been hit hard by the economy, you may not be looking at the bigger picture. You may want to consider a career move to another sector. Many industries are in a growth mode, for example health care, security (real-world and cyber-security) and real estate (lending, selling, appraising and other related services). When we say America is in a "down" economy, keep in mind that we are still the most prosperous nation in the world and people in other countries would give anything to live in this great country. Another option is creating a business of your own. Start small and build.. Michael Dell started Dell computers with $1,000 and did business from his dorm room, and Hewlett Packard started in a garage. America is still, after all, the land of opportunity -- "Down" economy or not.

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