By: Vanessa Santos

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Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • I should earn more, but I’m afraid of asking.
  • I should earn more, but I make excuses as to why I won’t get that raise (and erase any courage I have to ask).
  • I negotiate only a little for fear that the job offer will disappear.
  • I negotiate some and then say, “Once I’m in the job, I’ll prove my worth and then negotiate some more.”
  • I don’t negotiate at all and hope that they see my value and pay me justly.
  • I wait until my end-of-year/annual review to make the request.

Whichever category you fall into, I’ve put together some tips based on mistakes I’ve made in the past on how to approach your boss if you want a raise.

Let’s start with some baseline questions to evaluate if you should ask for a raise. Whether you want or deserve one, merely saying “I want a raise” won’t fly with your boss. That’s why it’s good to be prepared and come with the facts, because you can’t argue with facts.

[Related: What Happened When I Invested In Myself]

1) Can you justify your raise based on merits from the past six months to a year?

The answer should be yes. Make a list of all of your accomplishments in the past year. Now take a step back and look at the list again. Are any of those items part of your required day-to-day job description? If so, put those on a secondary list.

Of the items remaining on your original list, how have these accomplishments positively impacted the business? Now try and quantify these accomplishments. Have they resulted in increased revenues? Better productivity?

2) Have you gone above and beyond in your day-to-day tasks?

This is where your secondary list comes in handy. Yes, you were hired to do a job and you do it well. You do it very well.

You’d like to continue to go above and beyond, because that’s just the kind of employee you are. Highlight how you go that extra mile as a cherry on top of your data.

3) How much dinero do you want?

Be prepared to talk dollars and cents. How much of a pay increase do you want? You don’t need to have an exact amount, but keep in mind that the standard raise is typically between three to five percent.

Do the math and see if that number is reasonable to you. If you feel you deserve more, be ready to justify it with data. Having a range shows that you have done your homework and are prepared.

4) Is it a good time to ask for a raise?

Timing is oh-so-important. If your company is in the middle of layoffs or not performing well, then perhaps this conversation could wait a bit.

However, let’s say that you are in a role where you are singlehandedly outperforming your peers and picking up the slack in order for your company to meet its goals. You could leverage this negative situation to your benefit. Demonstrating how you’re riding the wave and positively contributing despite the poor performance elsewhere could be a great conversation starter for picking up more responsibility and helping the organization get back on its feet.

Another thing to consider related to timing: How long have you been in this role? If it’s less than six months, my advice is to wait a bit longer before asking.

Also, if it’s review time, do not assume that you will automatically receive a raise. If you expect this to become the norm, I suggest booking quarterly review sessions with your boss to track your accomplishments, and then make a formal request during your mid-year review.

So you are certain that you want a raise. You have done your homework and checked it twice. What next? Here is a checklist I’ve put together for you.

[Related: Two Questions to Maximize Your Achievements by Year’s End]

1) Set a meeting with your boss.

This is an important topic, and thus it requires the undivided attention of you and your boss. Keep it to 30 minutes and remember that good timing is key.

Are performance reviews coming up? Scheduling this type of meeting during your performance review is a good strategic move. If you don’t get performance reviews at work, ask for one.

2) Lead with the facts.

Focus your conversation on your achievements and results. This is the time to showcase why you deserve the raise.

3) Practice.

Rehearse what you plan to say and how you will ask your boss. I find mirror pep talks to be truly helpful. Don’t feel comfortable having a one-sided conversation with yourself? Ask a friend or a trusted colleague to hear you out.

4) Prepare yourself for a no.

There’s a 50/50 chance that the answer will be no. However, if it’s a no right now, ask your manager when would be a good time to broach this topic again. Not only will it show that you are handling rejection well, but now your boss is well aware that a pay raise is top-of-mind.

If you don’t ask, how will you know? Don’t let fear of rejection stop you from getting what you want and deserve.

Lastly, be proud of yourself for taking charge of your finances and career! I know these conversations are awkward, but think about it this way: Every time you stop yourself from having this conversation, you’re leaving money on the table. Why would you walk away from money?

[Related: Harnessing Courage to Overcome Fear]

Vanessa Santos is an award-winning business development and innovation leader with success in driving digital innovation and commercialization.

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