What to Do Before You Ask for a Raise

Five things to consider—or just do—before you negotiate for a higher salary.

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GL Hoffman

1. Overperform. If you are simply doing the job you were hired for, that might not be enough. These days you have to not only do that job but do it exceptionally well. I mean, not just exceptionally well...more like, no-one-has-ever-done-this-job-like-this-before well.

2. Timing Is Everything. It always seems to happen that someone will ask for a raise at exactly the wrong moment. The company has a poor sales month or quarter—a bad time. Your boss is under the gun for a big new project from his boss—a bad time. It's like the girl who gets grounded and the very next day asks to go to her first overnight party—bad timing.

3. Do Not Ask Your Coworkers What You Should Do or How Much to Ask For. It is so tempting to ask coworkers for their opinions and what they believe you should do. Don't.

4. Ask for More Work Before You Ask for More Money. This is a sensitive topic because a lot of bosses will take this as a sign that they are not managing you well. But you need to show that you can handle more—in addition to handling your current workload. I know there are tons of projects around that someone can and should do. Be the one that gets those extra projects.

5. Do the Work No One Else Wants to Do. Every job or company has crummy stuff to do. Some people avoid it and it gets noticed. Do you take your turn making coffee? Do you clean up someone else's mess—and not make a big deal out of it? Do you volunteer to drop something off at a client's business—and not ask what the mileage reimbursement program is? All the little things get noticed and recognized.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.