How to Negotiate a Raise

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Experts say there are important rules to follow in securing a raise. To begin with, employees should not ask for raises unless they have been at the company for at least a year or more. Other issues to consider are a self evaluation of performance, timing, the approach, and alternative options to a pay increase such as more vacation days, flexible work arrangements, or stock options.

It is imperative for employees to have a firm grasp of their job description and the compensation policies, experts say. Self evaluation is an important first-step in deciding to ask for a raise. Understanding one's worth is essential. Jack Chapman, a Career & Salary Coach and founder of www.salarynegotiatons.com, stated, "an employee must look at what is special and unique about their job performance; that is what a boss will pay for."

Experts recommend that employees review their accomplishments and be prepared to discuss how and why they have added value to the company. Keeping a job diary is an excellent way of maintaining a record of one's accomplishments.

Successful research will assist an individual asking for a raise, experts say. Review what others in the same position in and outside the organization make. Mr. Chapman recommends utilizing the Internet. "Jobstar.org has the mother load of online salary surveys," he said.

Timing is critical. Planning ahead will help in achieving the desired result. Experts advise that employees should be aware of internal and external pressures such as the financial stability of the company and the current state of the economy.

Employees should find out if their organization has a scheduled time period for making raise requests, experts advise. Mr. Chapman suggests drafting a memo and handing it in a few weeks before the employee would like to schedule the meeting to discuss a raise request. He stated, "the memo should be no more then a page and should list your targets and goals."

The status of the business can play a key role in whether it is an appropriate time to ask for a raise. If the business is doing well, this can prove an opportune time to try to reap the benefits of the company's success.

If an employee has recently experienced a major achievement, such as winning a case, this can also be a superb time to ask for a raise, according to Mr. Chapman. Another great time is if an employee has been handed additional responsibilities or an annual review is pending.

Understanding the culture of the office, as well as the bosses' personality, plays heavily into the effectiveness of the approach. The specific tactics used should be dictated by the character of the boss, the employee's relationship to the boss, and the general culture of the business environment.

Career coaches stress the importance of anticipating what reactions a supervisor may have. Knowing what to expect can be a tremendous aid in handling the overall situation.

Mr. Chapman suggested some things not to do when requesting a raise. "Do not talk about how you need this or need that. Sympathy doesn't work with lawyers. Do not give ultimatums and don't threaten to quit."

The employee's attitude is extremely significant, experts say. Weakness never looks good, but neither does arrogance. An employee should be prepared to support his or her reasons for wanting a raise and gracefully handle whatever decision is made. Maintaining a confident, professional, positive attitude, as well as having the correct information to support the request, will facilitate a successful interaction.

If a request for a raise is denied, career consultants advise that an employee should suggest some alternatives such as extra vacation days or stock options. If this is not an option, employees should consider looking for new employment where their financial needs will be satisfied.

Employees willing to remain with the company despite the lack of a raise should ask their employers what improvements they can make in their performances. Positive changes may result in a raise in a subsequent year.

Mr. Chapman suggests an exercise that can improve the chances of receiving a raise. An employee should sit down with his or her boss and have the boss list what is involved with the employee's job and rate the position on two scales: how well the employee is performing each job duty, and how important each duty is. The employee should fill out his or her own version of the list. After the two lists have been completed, both parties should compare notes. Afterward, the employee should make sure he or she is from this point forward on the same wavelength as the boss. "This one thing will make an employee stand out from the crowd," Mr. Chapman said.

Employees' demonstration that they are worth higher compensation should literally eventually pay out.

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