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Knowing how to ask for a raise is an important skill to have, and doing so can dramatically improve your financial situation. Use the following steps to start the negotiation process and get the raise you deserve.

Know Your Value to the Company

Before you’re ready to negotiate a raise, first consider what benefit you’ve created for your company. You shouldn’t go into your leader’s office expecting him or her to meet your financial demands without just cause. Before you waltz up to your leader and ask for more money in your paycheck, take some time and reflect on what you’ve done for your company. If you find that it’s difficult to remain objective about your own work, ask a trusted colleague to point out the benefit you’ve created for the company. If they can see the value, there’s a good chance that your leader will, too.

Create a Case

Now that you’ve considered your value, you need to be able to show it. Start by making graphs or charts that depict how you’ve successfully benefited the company. Begin by showing your direct contribution to the bottom line, but also consider other ways to measure your success. For instance, consider how your work has improved the brand, the work environment, the productivity of other employees and the engagement of clients and customers.

If your leader doesn’t like numbers and charts, you might do better with anecdotal evidence of your contributions. Tell a story of how you’re positively influencing the company. Include mentions of experiences and interactions with fellow employees.

Know a Number

Before you sit down with your leader, know what you’re asking for. Have a specific amount in your head. You need to find a balance between being greedy and selling yourself short. If you’re having trouble coming up with a number, start by looking at the salaries of similar positions in your industry. Checking out sites like Glassdoor is a good place to start.

Don’t Catch Your Leader Off Guard

Make sure your leader is aware of your intentions before meeting. You shouldn’t try to spook them into making a decision. After all, the extra money you’re requesting has to come from somewhere. It may take some time for them to allocate the necessary funds or get the permission to give your salary a boost. It’s best to drop a few hints before sitting down to talk business. The timing of the meeting is important as well. In an article with TIME, Robert Herjavec (an investor from the hit show “Shark Tank”) suggests that you ask for your raise at the end of the week, like on Thursday or Friday. “Managers tend to be more responsive just before weekends,” says Herjavec.

Consider the Work Environment

Be extra aware of your company and industry before asking for a raise. If your company is struggling financially, it may not be the best time to pursue a bigger paycheck. Instead, consider the recent successes and trials that the company faces. When preparing for your meeting, think about what’s currently important to your leader and your company. If you were an integral part in a successful business play, use that as the foundation of your request.

Look to the Future

While it’s essential to bring up your past achievements, also spend some time talking about what you will accomplish in the future. In order to justify a raise, you should make a plan for what you will do for the company in the coming years, specifically showing how your contribution will justify a larger salary. Suggest extra training or more responsibilities that will make you more valuable to the company.

Ask for More than Money

While a salary is important, you might try asking for something besides money. And in some cases, your leader will be more willing to negotiate other bonuses instead of an increased income. Consider suggesting other perks, such as more vacation time or more flexible working conditions. Working remotely can also be something you negotiate.

Consider Another Job

If you’ve received an offer for another job, you may be able to use it as leverage to receive a raise. Approach this tactic with extreme caution, though, as it gives your leader an ultimatum. To do this successfully, you employer needs to value you enough to keep you and give you a raise.

When going this route, you should be prepared for the possibility of your leader saying no. Don’t be afraid to leave for a better growth opportunity. If you’re looking for a new position, take a look at these tips for starting a new career.

Taking the Next Steps

Talking to your leader about a raise may not seem like an easy step to take, but your salary should reflect your work. If you have reflected on your contribution to your company and believe that your time and talents are worth more than your current paycheck, start taking these next steps today.

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