Asking your boss for a raise can be a delicate matter at the best of times. Trying to secure extra pay and benefits during the worst downturn since the Great Depression might seem like a lost cause, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. Here are four of them (hint: they all require a little preparation before going into any negotiation):
1) Underline how your responsibilities and importance to the company have grown since your last salary review. The first step in negotiating a salary raise in any financial climate is to prove that you're worth it. Going in armed with a list of recent achievements, improvements and initiatives can help you make a compelling case for your overall worth to the company.
2) Acknowledge that there's a financial crisis, and be prepared to negotiate for something other than money. While extra time off may not pay the mortgage, getting paid the same to work less may be a desirable option for some, not to mention a route that employers seeking to retain staff and control spending might opt for.
3) Know your worth and the level of demand in the marketplace for your skill set, before entering into any negotiations. It's difficult to make a case for a higher salary when layoffs in your industry have experienced professionals eyeing your job, but knowing the typical salary for your position even in tough times can pay dividends. And if your skills are in demand elsewhere, knowing that can be a very effective tactic when it comes to answering questions about just why it is you're worth that raise, even in a slow economy.
4) If all else fails, state the truth: If you're doing the same job you were a year ago, and for the same salary, the chances are you're less well off than you were then, due to rising prices. While personal financial difficulties (credit card debt, etc.) shouldn't come into a negotiation, there's no harm in reminding your boss that gas prices have made your commute more expensive.
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