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    You've worked long and hard at your job, and it's about time you saw some financial rewards for it. How to ask for a raise:

      Aside from companies who have policies offering periodic reviews and annual cost of living raises, it is rare for employers to give a pay increase to employees on their own initiative. Some experts feel that moving to another company is the best way to be rewarded for your talents. Others feel winning the lottery is a sure-fire way to increase your income. However, you've invested your time and you really like your job. You just don't like the pay(and that guy who always wears bow-ties). No matter how much you deserve a raise, asking for one can be very intimidating. Here are some guidelines to help you get what you want.

      Know that you are valuable to your company. In order to get that raise, it is your job to figure out just how valuable you are. Ask friends and family members what someone working in a similar position to yours would be paid at their companies. Utilize online resources to find out what someone with your experience is making in your regional location. Headhunters and recruiters who specialize in your field could also be helpful in your research.(Calculate the flux of inflation over the past fifty years by first juxtaposing the GNP of Thailand with . . . maybe not.)But having figures to back up your argument can be a particularly effective tool.

      Evaluate your job duties. Are your daily responsibilities the same now as when you were hired, or have you taken on a more important role? How have you contributed to the company? Do co-workers awkwardly call you "pal" because they can't place your name? Have specific accomplishments ready and don't be shy about sharing them. Be ready to show how you've increased profits, sales or efficiency. Remind your employer of the difficult projects you managed and their successful outcomes. If you can't think of any, start keeping a weekly log of your accomplishments at work (during your coffee break of course). This will help show how your position has evolved and how you have benefited the company.



      Figure out a dollar value for your accomplishments and set a goal for how you would like to be compensated. Be realistic about your target amount. The word "zillion" should probably not be included in your request. You may not always get the bull's eye, so be flexible. Some companies may be willing to give you perks instead of extra pay. Wouldn't it be nice to have an extra week of vacation time? Or how about a 24-hour masseuse? Flexible hours or telecommuting might be nice(it's no massage, but whatever). Such rewards don't cost companies much, but they may be extremely valuable to you.

      When you've done all your research and you know what you want, set up a meeting with your supervisor. It doesn't have to be a secret why you are meeting with him/her/it(hey, I don't know what your supervisor looks like). You can say that you'd like to review your job performance or assess your contributions to the company. Some experts suggest a written agenda is appropriate, so that your boss can be prepared as well.



      Remember that your needs are irrelevant in this situation——it isn't your boss's job to make sure you make your car payments or that Big Rocko doesn't break your legs for betting on the Giants to win the Super Bowl(do a little research next time). Your boss isn't, and shouldn't be concerned with your personal problems; his/her concern is the company. Have written documentation of your accomplishments and responsibilities, as well as your information about your salary surveys. Express clearly what it is you were hired to do, how much you have improved efficiency, and how your increased responsibility has benefited THE COMPANY. Exact figures or percentages of improvement can be impressive to supervisors——it's your job to get them to see the big picture of how much of an asset you are. Let them know what you need to get the job done, and remember to tell them it is negotiable. They like that.

      As intimidating as it may seem, if you are prepared and your research and documentation show that you deserve a raise, it is likely that you will be compensated in some way. If your figure is flat out rejected, ask what it would take for you to get a raise, and make a date to discuss the topic again.

      Your last resort, of course, is the(gasp)counter-offer. Another company making you an offer is a surefire way to get your boss's attention and show your worth. This is a tricky plan that can backfire if you aren't really prepared to leave, or if you break up into hysterics when you first mention it. Make sure that you do have another job to go to, and that you are truly willing to go, because they just might say "Good luck. Don't let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you." On the other side of the coin, if they do offer you a raise, assess whether the money is worth the extra commitment your company will expect in return. You may just want to take the other offer, especially if it means you'll be playing power forward for the Lakers.

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