Even if your company is tightening its belt, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask for and receive a raise. If you work hard, have demonstrated success and your request is reasonable, it's up to your boss to find a way to say no (or just give you a raise). But even top performers will face negotiations about salary increases, which is why preparation and timing are everything. (See more in "7 Tips for Getting the Salary You Deserve.")

1. Prepare ahead of Time

If your employer does not offer, asking for a raise isn’t something you can do on the fly. It will take some preparation, particularly if you are looking for a hefty hike in your salary. Employers value workers who bring something to the organization, whether that’s an increase in sales, reduction in costs or an innovation that motivates the workforce. Months before you ask, you should be logging your accomplishments, saving complimentary emails, and proving your worth within the organization. This is also the the time to improve on areas of weakness and take on extra projects to showcase your strengths and dedication. (Read more in "Employment Negotiations: What To Ask For & How.")

2. Walk in Your Boss’ Shoes

You may think you are the company rock star, but if your boss has a completely different view of your work, a raise is unlikely. That’s why it’s important to get an idea of what your boss is thinking because as this article describes, "Things You Didn't Know Could Get You Fired."  Even if you are sure your boss loves you, take the time to request a meeting a few months before you are going to ask for a raise to formally ask what your boss thinks of your performance. Hopefully you will both be on the same page, but if not, you’ll have time to improve.

3. Learn Your Industry Worth

Before you can come up with a realistic figure, you are going to have to determine how much you are worth in your industry. With all things being equal, you are going to want to know the average salary in your region for a worker with your education and experience. Knowing that will come in handy when negotiating a raise, particularly if you are underpaid. A quick search on the Internet will yield a ton of results. Even if you already make more than the average worker with your background, perhaps you are underpaid in comparison with others in your company or on your team. (Read more in "What To Do When You Are Underpaid.")

4. Give Your Boss Time To Prepare

The last thing you want to do when asking your supervisor for a raise is to blindside him or her with the request. It’s better to give the boss a heads up that you would like to discuss your salary. That gives your supervisor time to look over your performance. That’s particularly important if you have been performing well but aren’t front and center in your boss’ mind. Giving your boss a heads up will give him or her a reason to look at your accomplishments and hopefully be impressed. 

5. Back Up Your Claims

Companies are in it to make money and they are willing to pay more for an employee if they think he or she will add value to the organization. But when asking, you have to come to the table with more than your words. You want hard evidence to back up your claims. Let’s say you were responsible for bringing in new clients to the firm. Have a list of those clients and the amount of sales they generated to provide hard data to go with your accomplishment. If you are the office manager, you can show how you were able to lower costs for supplies.  

6. Ask Nicely

Even if you single-handedly boosted sales for the company by 50%, you don’t want to come off as arrogant or entitled when asking for an increase in your compensation. Nothing is going to turn your supervisor off more than acting like the raise is yours before even making a case as to why you deserve it. Being humble, showing your worth and not acting entitled will help your supervisor consider your request rather than dismiss it immediately.

7. Accept No Without Getting Angry

At the end of the day, your company may simply not have enough money to increase your salary. If your efforts fall on deaf ears, don’t storm off in anger, threaten to quit or actually walk off the job. After all, there may be reasons your boss can’t or won’t give you a raise today but that doesn’t meant the situation can’t change in the future. Accept your supervisor’s decision and either work harder or start to look for a better job that will match your salary requirements. Keep in mind that it's much easier to land a job when you already have one. (See more in "Can't Get A Raise? Negotiate Your Benefits.")

The Bottom Line

Even in a strong job market, asking for a raise even can be tough to do. Companies will go to great lengths to reward workers who add value to the company, but you have to be able to show that you are an asset. Coming up with facts to back up your performance claims, being realistic in how much you want and staying humble when requesting a raise, are some of the ways you can negotiate a bump in your salary.

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