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How to Ask For (and Get) Your Raise in 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — All too many career professionals aggressive about finishing projects and other workplace needs are downright timid about asking for a raise.

"Some people would rather stand in the longest supermarket line than ask for money," says Laura Fredricks, a legal and philanthropic adviser to corporations and a best-selling business book author.

"But you have worked hard with extra hours, taken on other people's work, never complained, were praised by your boss' boss for your work and you just received a great performance review," she says. "Now it is prime time for you to ask for a raise."

Fredricks says it's not enough to just ask for a raise. To get a good response (and a fatter paycheck), it's how you ask that makes all the difference between a "maybe," "let's wait a few months" and serious consideration on the spot, she says.

Fredricks has some tips to get you that raise with minimum muss and fuss:

Ask for a specific figure. "I have seen many people ask for a raise over the course of my career, and very few came out with the amount they wanted," Fredricks says. "Most said, 'I have done so much extra work and I think I should be rewarded.' Management may well recognize that — or they may not. Avoid the guessing game by being specific. Frame your request to highlight why you're asking for a specific figure." Fredricks gives this example: "As you know, I have brought in 10 new clients, which has helped our company grow and attracted new business. I am here today to ask you for a $35,000 raise effective the next pay cycle." 

Be prepared for all responses. "One of the best ways you can earn your new raise is to be prepared for any and all possible reactions," Fredricks says. Expect to hear terms such as "this request is way too much," "the budget is tight this year" or "we have never given that amount." Prepare a response and write it down so you're not caught off guard. When you are prepared, you are confident, she says, and it's the confident worker who gets the raise.

Set a date and stick to it. Management may try to evade and delay, so your goal is to get on a decision-maker's calendar and hold that date. "Rarely will your boss say on the spot, 'yes' or 'sure' or 'works for me,' because depending on the size of your organization, it takes time, layers of review and sometime human resources to get to a decision," she says. To cut through some of that delay, Fredricks advises getting a date on the calendar so your request will be considered as soon as possible. "This way you look and sound prepared, confident and willing to assist your boss with any backup information needed," she adds.

Fredricks also advises avoiding key excuses not to ask for a raise. She cites five "reasons" why career professionals bow out instead of standing up and asking for that raise:

  • It is a challenging economy and now is not the time to ask for a raise.
  • If I ask, everyone in the department will want a raise.
  • If I don't get a raise, it may signal I will leave — and then I am a less valuable employee.
  • I was hired at a higher rate than they wanted to offer me, so maybe I should wait.
  • The raise will put me above others in my department. That may cause bad feelings internally. 

"It's hard not to hear these voices in your head," Fredricks admits. "But if you turn negative thoughts into positive statements, you will be in the position of asking from strength, not self-doubt. Remember, when you ask for a raise you are not asking for a favor — you are asking for the fair value of your work performance."

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