How and When to Vie for a "Yes"
1. Build a case. The first thing you'll want to do is gather information to help build your case, showing how you solved company problems and made them money. Make a list of recent accomplishments, particularly those for which you may not have received credit but helped the company just the same. A great way to have information on hand when needed is to keep track of your daily tasks and the hurdles you've overcome in a personal log, and then weave those into a modern, storyboard resume. Don't rely on your memory here. It's just way too important.
2. Do your research. Next, look around at salary resource sites like Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com, or Salary.com to get an idea of what salaries those in similar positions earn. Take into account such things as geographic location (New York City, for example, has a higher cost of living than Des Moines, Iowa), company size, and your experience level to ensure a fair comparison.
3. Timing is everything. Finally, choose your time carefully. Asking your boss for a raise during tax season (which occurs quarterly for most companies) or after a massive round of layoffs may decrease your chances. Instead, wait until a big project has been successfully completed or after you've been awarded an honor or some form of recognition. You'll be riding high emotionally from your accomplishment, and your confidence level will play a role in helping you to state your case with impact. Plus, your boss will see additional value in keeping you happy.
What to Do If the Answer is "No"
1. Manage your emotions. Another possibility to prepare for is the prospect that you may not get the answer you want. If this job is important to you, resist the temptation to say something you can't take back. Letting your emotions get the best of you could keep you at the same scale for some time to come, or at worst, have you looking for a new position elsewhere. If the answer is, "no," inquire into what you can do to ensure a positive response the next time you ask.
2. Be open to other forms of compensation. Your boss might agree that you deserve what you're asking for; however, the budget may not allow it. So instead of money, think of something that might make your life a little easier. A better parking space? An extra day off? Tickets to the big game? Telecommuting one or two days per week? Performance bonuses based on agreed-upon profit objectives? Any number of things are available for consideration for a valued team member in lieu of a fatter paycheck.
Asking for a pay raise can be daunting in today's corporate climate. Don't let this dissuade you if you truly feel your contribution to the company's bottom line warrants additional compensation. Like any good attorney would do to win a case, gather your evidence, and be prepared to state your position as clearly and calmly as possible.
The only thing worse than not getting a raise is not asking for it.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.