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How to Get a Raise When No One Else Is

NEW YORK ( BankingMyWay) -- For employees hoping for a salary increase, next year is shaping up to be a lot like this year -- and pretty much every year before that going back to 2008.

It will be a weak one, according to industry sources.

A study from the human resources firm Mercer tells the tale. The company is out with a report showing that employers are tossing raises around like manhole covers.

What raises employees do get will be incremental. Mercer says the average raise will be about 2.9% next year, slightly above the 2.7% average salary hike staffers saw last year and this year.

At 2.9%, the average salary hike is ahead of the U.S. inflation rate, but just barely. According to TradingEconomics.com, inflation stands at 1.5% these days. That means even if you do get a raise, it may be just enough to keep up with the economic status quo.

Furthermore, the report notes continued favorable treatment for employers, but not employees. With unemployment high, employees are staying put. That means companies don't have to attract new workers, or at least a lot of them, and can thus keep salaries low.

What can workplace warriors do to pry out a decent raise from their companies? Nobody is saying it's easy, but it can be done -- if you follow the following steps:

Don't ask until you do your research. Staffers looking for a raise should conduct some basic due diligence first. Find out as much as you can about your company's financial condition. If it's a public company, your employer has to release its financial performance. ( TheStreet.com tracks the performance of thousands of publicly traded companies.) If your company is private, ask around; talk to insiders who know how the company is doing from quarter to quarter.

Find out what the industry pays for employees such as you. Part of your due diligence is to know what, at a snapshot level, other companies pay for staffers such as yourself. Websites such as Salary.com and Payscale.com are good places to go to figure out where you stand salary wise. Once you have this, you're well armed to make your case for a raise if your salary isn't up to industry standards.

Sell your track record. Getting a raise is all about demonstrating value to your employer. Do that by listing recent accomplishments and citing examples of how you are no luxury for a company, but a necessity. Glowing reviews from customers are a big help, as are figures from a project you worked on that showed a big return on investment.

Don't get bogged down in a personal finance story. Managers don't like drama, so if you walk into a salary request situation with tales of economic woe ("My rent just went up" or "My spouse was just laid off"), you'll likely strike out. These are important topics, but irrelevant to your primary goal: making the case that you are a big contributor to the company's bottom line.

Strike while the iron is hot. If you just sold a million units of ball bearings or landed a big client for your firm, don't sit on the good news. While the experience is still fresh in your employer's mind, ask for a raise.

Avoid waving an offer from another company in your manager's face. Don't tie a job offer in with a raise request. Employers don't like having a gun held to their head, so don't mention a raise request if you tell your firm you've got a job offer. Most managers are savvy and will know that to keep you from a competitor, more money will need to be on the table.

Nobody can go to bat for you like you can. So when asking for a salary hike, do your homework, sell yourself and try to put yourself in your employer's shoes.

Do that and you're well on your way to a bigger paycheck.

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