5 Things Your Boss is Thinking as You Ask for a Raise

Before you walk into your boss’s office, know what he or she is thinking as you ask for the raise.

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GL Hoffman

In this economy, there's a good chance that you have gone for years now without a raise. And still, you have done your part. You have worked longer hours. You have assumed duties not normally in your job description. You have supported management every step of the way. You have been a positive role model and mentor to other employees.

[See 22 ways to be a better boss.]

But now, business is picking up, and it is time for you to ask for a raise. You deserve it. Before you walk into your boss’s office, be prepared. Here are five things he or she will be thinking about when you ask for the raise:

1. Why wasn’t I prepared for this meeting? There is nothing worse than being surprised by an employee who wants to talk about a sensitive topic like a raise. Far better to organize yourself and schedule a time to meet with your boss, with a proper agenda in mind. Walking in and just announcing that you need a raise is not the right way.

[See 6 ways to keep your employees from jumping ship.]

2. How badly do I need him or her? In short, have you made yourself indispensable? If there are lower cost alternatives available to your boss, this might tip him in that direction. Make sure you communicate all the things you do that only you can do.

3. Do I have the ability to grant his request? He may want to give you the raise but doing so is simply not possible. Does he have the ability to work with his superiors to find the extra money to pay you? Come prepared to handle this objection.

[See 9 symbolic gestures from a good boss.]

4. If I give him a raise, what does this do to the salaries of others? This may not be fair, but most bosses do think about how this action will impact others. Giving you a raise is not a singular event, and smart bosses will want to make sure that your raise is part of a grander plan.

5. If I must say "no," how likely is it that he will leave? And if he leaves, how long will it take me to hire or train his replacement? What can happen in the interim? How can I make sure there is an adequate transition.

Having a salary discussion is an important part of the workplace today. The better prepared you are, the more likely it is that you'll have the outcome you desire.

As in most things, be prepared. But, even more to the point, be prepared with your boss’s viewpoint in mind.

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, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job-search engines.. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.