Talking money at work can be tricky these days.
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Wait your turn.
Only been at the company six months? No matter how much work you've done or business you've generated, you'll look presumptuous approaching your boss for a raise. Be honest with yourself — do you really deserve a raise? Have you taken on more than your job description calls for? Unless your position has radically changed in a short time frame, wait until your next performance review to lobby for a raise.
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Do your research.
There's a difference between thinking you're underpaid and actually being underpaid. Find out what your job commands at similar firms. (Ask around or check out research sites like Salary.com, Payscale.com, or SalaryExpert.com.) Be reasonable and realistic or risk alienating your boss.
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Pick the right moment.
Just finished a big project, recently closed a big account, or scored the biggest press ever for the company? You'll want to swoop in when your bosses are praising your work and thinking positively about your value to the company. And it wouldn't hurt to make sure your boss is in a good mood before traipsing in with your proposal.
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Have your backup ready.
Come prepared with a memo that details your accomplishments, from tangible scores (that big deal you nailed) to the immeasurable contributions (you mentor junior associates). Use examples to demonstrate that you've taken on more responsibility within the company. Keep the memo short (no PowerPoint presentations!) — no more than a page, two max. Leave a copy with your boss, so he's got all the information at the ready when considering your request.
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Do not threaten to quit.
Keep your inner brat in check. If your boss balks at your request for more money, do not (I repeat, do not) take it personally. Begging, threatening to quit, crying, or anything equally childish is not a ringing endorsement for you or how much you value the company. (And he might take you up on your threat.) Don't resort to ratting out your lazy cubemates, either. Remember: Your boss is watching to see how you handle setbacks.
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No cash? What about perks?
If the company is strapped for cash, switch gears and ask for other perks, like extra vacation days, tuition reimbursement for a job-related course, a bonus. While these may prove less gratifying than a raise, any of these is an affirmation of your value — and a reminder to the firm of your commitment.
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Leave with an answer.
Your boss probably won't give you a yes or no answer on the spot. But don't settle for an "I'll get back to you," either. Leave with a follow-up plan in place. When will she get back to you? How long should you wait for the process to run its course before checking in? Not only will you get your answer, but your boss will take the request more seriously.
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