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Signs it's time to ask for a raise
November 4, 2013, 11:39 am

For even the most confident employees, mustering up the courage to ask for a raise can be a struggle. Employees are worried that they will appear to be presumptuous and pushy and that the answer will be no. But a careful examination of your role with the company, along with other indicators, can increase the chances of receiving a yes. Here are a few signs to look for:

Your boss is on cloud nine: If recent successes have left your boss in a perpetually genial state, your request will get a better reception. On the other hand, if he or she has dealt with a series of professional and personal setbacks, it may not be a good time to add another layer of worry.

The industry you work in is more prone to salary increases: Entrepreneurial and innovation-based firms are more likely to notice individual contributions. In public utility, state government or retail, a raise may be harder to come by due to fluctuating employment, a pay scale dictated by company guidelines or other slow-moving standards.

The company is financially flourishing: Hopefully good leaders are using times of prosperity as an opportunity to share the profits with high-performing, value-adding individuals within the organization. If you know your company is in the black, ask for a slight pay increase that's comparable with industry standards.

Your division is growing rapidly: Maybe every part of the company isn't expanding in profits, but your division certainly is. The company policy may call for across-the-board pay parity. When you approach your boss, speak about the contribution you're making to the fastest-growing segment of the company and start asking them to rethink the compensation policy.

More lucrative offers come your way: Other companies are now dangling a higher salary in front of you. The outside market is setting a new benchmark, one that elevates your worth and forces your employer to look at you differently. Management now has to ask: What would happen if you left?

Performance reviews and salary discussions are more fluid: While some companies have firm timetables in place for when employees are eligible for raises, yours may not. Research internal policies and talk with other employees who previously held your position to discover whether tenure is a determining factor in pay increases.

Specialized skill for a specialized problem: Take advantage of your academic and professional background if it might give you an advantage. For example, possessing a PhD in physics might make you a valuable commodity at the financial firm where you work. Under those circumstances, an employee might command a high salary without feeling embarrassment for requesting a raise.

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