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Do you feel that you deserve a higher salary? The fastest way to increase your income is to ask for a raise. But if you just ask your boss for a raise without giving him any reasons why you deserve one, you're less likely to succeed. These 4 basic guidelines can help you plan and prepare to explain to your boss why you deserve a pay raise.

Research
Start by finding out what the going rate is for those working in your field. Check out job listings for jobs similar to yours, and study published salary reports. If you belong to a professional organization, find out if they have salary information available. Be sure to factor in the number of years you have worked in the field and for your current employer. Settle on a range rather than a specific figure, and be prepared to negotiate.

Also, find out how your company is doing. Pay attention to the company grapevine or check business news and reports to gauge your company's financial health. If your company is facing financial difficulties, you are unlikely to get a raise, so you may need to wait a while till the time is right.

Prepare your evidence

You should emphasize how you have performed above and beyond your job specifications to justify why you deserve a corresponding pay increase. Approach this task as if you are preparing for a job interview or a major sales presentation. Write down any major accomplishments that you have achieved during your time with the company. Also note any additional responsibilities that you have taken on. Examples of evidence you might present are solid numbers of revenue you earned, costs saved, client testimonials praising your customer service, tight deadlines you've beaten, products and/or services you've improved, and so on.

However, do not cite your personal needs as a reason for needing a raise. This is not the time to bring up your mortgage or the payments for your new car. The salary your employer pays you is for value of the work you do, not the expenses you have.

Decide how you'll respond to a rejection

Before you even walk into your boss' office, you should give some thought to what to do if you don't get the raise. Will you continue to work for the company and ask again at a later date? Or will you look for another job that will pay you what you feel you're worth?

If you are otherwise happy at the company and plan to stay even if you don't get a raise, then ask your supervisor what you can do to increase your salary in the future – such as taking on additional responsibilities or improving your performance. Also, don't overlook non-monetary benefits such as additional leave, training and other perks.

If your decision to stay at the company hinges on whether you get the raise, resist the urge to frame your request as an ultimatum. Threatening to quit if you don't get the raise will make you look unprofessional – and your boss might take you up on your offer. Even if you are positive that you will leave if you don't get the raise, don't make this the focus of your request. And if your request for a raise is denied, accept the rejection gracefully, thank your supervisor for his time, and then go about your job search quietly and professionally.

Ask for a raise!
You've done your research and have a file folder of irrefutable evidence. You even have an exit strategy in the event of a rejection. Now is the time to ask.

Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your supervisor that allows plenty of time for you to make your case. Also, it makes it harder for your boss to say no when you are right there to overcome any objections. Let him know in advance that you wish to discuss your compensation to give him time to consult with HR and his own supervisor. Be polite but firm, and don't get emotional.

Asking for a raise may seem daunting, but it's an important negotiation skill that you'll be able to add to your repertoire. Plus, when you are successful, you'll be earning extra money so you'll have a real reward to show for your efforts. So, be positive and ask for what you're worth!