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If you have worked for your current employer for a while and have made valuable contributions, it’s natural to want and expect to be rewarded. If your boss hasn’t offered you a raise, you may have to ask for one to get the compensation you deserve. Before you initiate the conversation, do some research and come up with a plan.

Is Now a Good Time to Ask for a Raise?
If you recently closed an important deal or spearheaded a successful project, asking for a raise while those accomplishments are fresh in your boss’s mind would be a good idea. On the other hand, if the company is struggling financially, is going through layoffs or a merger, or is experiencing problems or uncertainty for another reason, your boss might be reluctant to give you or anyone else a raise right now.

What Is a Fair Salary?
Conduct research to find out how much other people are paid for doing jobs equivalent or similar to yours. Pay rates vary widely across the country, so focus on salaries in your geographic area. You should also take the size of the company into account. A large corporation may be able to pay significantly more than a small business.

Focus on the Value of Your Contributions
Before you talk to your boss, make a list of your major accomplishments, along with how they have helped the company. If your work has increased sales, cut costs or brought in new clients, be prepared to bring that up in a meeting. The more specific you are, the better. Employers focus on the bottom line, so clearly expressing how you’ve added value to the company will make your boss more likely to approve a raise. Anticipate possible objections, and be prepared to address them. Role playing with a family member or friend can be helpful.

Prepare for a Discussion
Don’t just stroll into your boss’s office and ask for a raise out of the blue. Schedule a meeting so you can talk without distractions and interruptions. If your boss says the company can’t afford to pay you more, be prepared to negotiate. You can ask for other things of financial value, such as company-funded retirement matches, stock options, more vacation time, or the opportunity to work from home so you can save money on gas and vehicle maintenance. If your boss needs time to think about it or to discuss the issue with his or her supervisor, ask when you can follow up.

Request a Raise With Confidence
Asking for a raise is stressful for many people, but if you’ve made valuable contributions to your company, you deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Think about how your work has benefited the company, research salaries for comparable jobs in your area, create a strategy, and go into the meeting prepared to sell yourself.