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SALARIES Asking for a raise? Be prepared, practice



Published: Sun, February 9, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Experts advise how to ask for raise.

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

Asking for a raise ranks up there with getting a tooth pulled.

Most people just don't like to do it.

"I think that asking for a raise is very difficult because there is a good chance you'll be rejected," said Steven Rothberg, president of CollegeRecruiter.com, a Minneapolis-based career Web site. "But if you think about it as a discussion about your value, that's not very difficult."

Keith Turner, a J.C. Penney portrait studio employee at Oakland Mall in Troy, Mich., says he is always slightly nervous when he asks for more money, but he has done it in the past.

"If you feel like your performance has been accurate and you've been in on time without a lot of absences, then go in and ask," he said.

The trick is to sit down one-on-one with your boss, come prepared and be open to other options like more vacation time.

"Look good, be professional and practice what you're going to say beforehand," advised Christopher Jones, a career columnist with the Web site Hotjobs.com of New York. "This is a big day."

Questions, advice

Here are some commonly asked questions about requesting a raise and what the experts advise:

Q. How do I broach the subject of a raise with my boss?

A. Don't fret. Managers know these conversations are part of their job. Just don't blindside your boss in the hall or restroom. Ask to make an appointment so you both can prepare for the discussion.

Q. Can I ask for a raise if times are tough?

A. It always helps if your company and economy are doing well. But experts like Michael DePoli, a director with the Doeren Mayhew accounting and consulting firm in Troy, said it's not impossible to get an increase when the company is suffering since many businesses realize they still need to retain their best workers.

Try to catch your supervisor when things are calm or just after you've completed a large task or project.

Q. What should I bring with me to the meeting?

A. Prepare a list or portfolio of your recent accomplishments, new responsibilities and skills. Also have summaries of past evaluations and copies of positive e-mails or memos from supervisors or co-workers about your performance.

Q. I'm upset about my pay and not sure I can speak calmly about the matter.

A. The key is to keep your cool. Tell your boss what a pleasure it is to work there but that you want to talk about your performance, position and compensation. Try not to use the words "raise" or "money."

Q. I really need the money for personal reasons. Should I explain this?

A. No. Experts agree no one wants to hear about your bills or kid's college tuition costs.

"Employers aren't charitable institutions," said Charles Craver, a negotiating specialist at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. and author of "The Intelligent Negotiator" (Prima Publishing, $22.95). "All they really care about is your value to the firm."

Don't ask too often

Q. Is it possible to ask for a raise too often?

A. Absolutely. If you always ask for more, managers may begin to offer you less initially. You also don't want to be perceived as an unhappy worker. Those folks are often the first to go at layoff time.




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