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How to ask for a raise – and get it

Kathy A. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor in central Florida. Her work has appeared online and in print publications ranging from Mothers & More Forum to Horse Journal.

How to ask for a raise

Women who work full time continue to make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns each year. While the wage gap has narrowed, women often still find themselves on the short end of the salary stick. Though there are several reasons for this, the one thing you can do to increase your earnings is ask for a raise. Here’s how.

Woman asking for raise

Asking for a raise can be daunting and for this reason many, perhaps most women don't ask for a pay increase. Women tend to work hard and wait to be noticed. This is a mistake, especially during difficult economic times when raises may be hard to come by. At the same time, if your company is in dire financial shape, use your judgment before you request a raise. If your firm has had to cut employees, it may have some money available to compensate the now harder-working employees who remain. Ready to ask for what you're worth?

What to do before asking for a raise

1Know your company

Before you ask for a raise, find out when your company generally gives out raises and the standards it uses to measure performance.

2Know your worth

Make a list of your accomplishments, focusing on the value you provide your company. Have you saved it time and money or brought in new business? Do you have testimonials from satisfied clients? Perhaps your workload or level of responsibility has increased but your salary has not. Be clear on how you are an asset to the company.

3Know the market

Research salaries in your field and position. You can start with Internet sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com, GlassDoor.com or WAGE.com. (WAGE, which stands for Women Are Getting Even, provides workshops and other resources for women seeking to rectify pay inequalities based on gender.) Also check out newspaper and Internet ads for your job title. You might also ask others in your field for a general estimate of salaries for someone in your position. Check with women and men in your field -- other women may be just as underpaid as you are!

4Know what you're asking for

Decide how much you want to ask for and whether you want to phrase it as a percentage or a dollar amount. Here's where your research comes in.

5Practice asking for a raise

Before you set foot in your boss' office, practice what you will say out loud until you feel confident. Also, think about what objections might arise and be ready to discuss them.

The right way to ask for a raise

When you meet with your boss, emphasize why it makes sense for your company to give you a raise. Don't compare yourself to others or say that you need a raise because you need more money to pay your expenses. Do not threaten to quit (unless you're ready to quit). Also avoid inventing or exaggerating other job offers.

If your boss refuses to give you a raise

Even if you do everything right, there will still be times when the answer is no. Above all, maintain your composure. Ask why you were turned down and how you can improve your performance so that you merit a raise later. Ask if you can meet in the future – say, in six months – to discuss it again. Before that meeting, continue to record your accomplishments and work to make yourself noticed.

Asking for a raise may be intimidating but if you prepare and approach it with confidence, you are far more likely to bring home a fatter paycheck.

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