Many people get nervous when they head into a year-end review meeting, especially if they are about to ask for a raise. For those of us who don't like to talk about ourselves and find it to be a daunting task, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. (For a related reading, see The Toughest Corporate Ladders To Climb.)
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DO your research
Make a list of every major accomplishment from last year's review, with notes on how you've improved, to help back up your request for a raise, and come prepared with specifics about what you want in terms of a raise. If you're familiar enough with your colleagues, ask them to candidly to give you a range of what they think someone in your role should be paid; the beauty of this question is you aren't asking them to tell you what they earn and you aren't disclosing your personal information either. If you are uncomfortable with such a direct approach, use websites like Payscale.com.
DON'T ask for a raise if you don't deserve it
Many employees fall into the trap of thinking that yearly raises should automatically be given to account for the rise in cost of living and inflation, but if you know you haven't been an outstanding performer this year, then tread carefully when asking for more money. You may get it or you may end up with egg on your face, which may not sit too well with management.
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DO take into account the company's financial situation
Companies these days are going to be shy about promising more money to their employees, especially if they're worried about what the next year will bring, or if they are in a dying industry. If your company is holding steady, but is not seeing a lot of increased business, or management has been laying off your colleagues, perhaps this year is not the best year to ask for more money. (For more, check out 6 Sectors That Are Creating Jobs.)
DON'T let your company defer your raises indefinitely
Some companies may employ more aggressive strategies, where they look like they're listening by promising to look into a raise, but ultimately they always defer your request for "later review." If this has been going on for many years, but your company is growing by the day, there comes a time when you should consider that maybe you'd be better appreciated elsewhere. If you do find and secure employment elsewhere, you may find that before you leave you'll be offered all the raises you had been asking for and more. Use your good judgment with this tip, because everyone's situation is different. (For more, see 8 Reasons To Tough Out Your Job.)
DO be open minded
Asking for only a monetary raise is not the only item on the negotiating table. Did you know that you can also ask for more vacation days, special perks such as getting certain work-related expenses paid, or even asking for a flexible workweek? If it will be a good fit with your job responsibilities, ask for a four-day work week or a late start to your day so you can drop your children off at school in the morning. These are all extra perks of a job that can make you a happier employee, which is what every company wants.
DON'T be greedy
Asking for a 10% raise, an extra week of vacation and to be able to work at home for four days a week might be pushing the envelope a bit. Keep in mind that if you ask for an extra week of vacation, you can see it as an indirect raise, because if you are paid $40,000 net a year, based on a 50-week year, assuming 2 weeks of vacation, each week of extra paid vacation is an $800 "raise."
DO be presentable
Consider looking a little bit nicer for your year-end review. In fact, consider doing this for every day you come in to work, because like it or not, appearances matter. Unless you're a genius and the company wouldn't exist without you, showing up in a black turtleneck and jeans à la Steve Jobs of Apple, even if your company allows it, may not mean your manager likes it. There's no need to wear a suit to your year-end review, but people do recognize and appreciate the effort. (Learn more in Dating And Job Hunting: The Same Skills Apply.)
DON'T treat it like any other day
Practice beforehand, psych yourself up in the morning, go for an invigorating workout or relax with some yoga, and be early. This is not just any other day, and you should treat your year-end review like you are negotiating for a new job.
The Bottom Line
Everybody gets nervous. Channel your nervous energy into practicing and preparing so you can feel calm, in control and confident, and even if you don't get what you asked for, you can chalk it up as extra practice for your next run at it. (For more, check out Can't Get A Raise? Negotiate Your Benefits.)
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