In this economy, count yourself as one of the lucky ones if you have a job. But what if you've had this job for some time and you feel you're overdue for a raise? How do you convince someone to give you more money when there are five other people lined up for your job who would do it for less in a heartbeat?
First, put yourself in your manager's shoes. Would you give yourself a raise? Do you really deserve one, or just want one? Be brutally honest with yourself and about yourself. If you ran the company, would you give your money, your hard earned profits, to you?
If you can honestly say "yes," then move forward with these seven steps:
1. Did you contribute to the company's profit in a substantial way since your last raise or since you were hired? Do the research and come up with the hard numbers.
2. Be prepared with several examples of what you specifically did to make the company more successful--a project, a cost-saving measure, a new hire, etc.
3. Do the research to see what others are being paid for this work so that you can name the amount you want and back it up with facts.
4. Create a professionally formatted document with the profit numbers, the examples of what you did, and the amount you want.
5. Make an appointment in advance so you have dedicated time to discuss your raise with the decision maker. Note: Try to make the appointment when your manager is least busy. For many, that is after lunch.
6. Practice what you want to say and how you want to say it with a friend, family member, or in front of the mirror, including several scenarios of what your manager may say or ask at the meeting.
7. Come to the meeting dressed like you care, be aware of your body language, and present your request and the facts that back it up. Keep it brief and to the point. Give your manager the prepared document just before you leave.
In a perfect world, the manager says yes and you go off happy. In the real world, the manager will promise to get back with you after reviewing the facts and discussing the raise with others. Say thank you and leave with a good handshake.
Don't sell yourself short thinking that middling economic growth precludes any sort of raise.
"Even during difficult financial times, we work to provide even small annual increases. We utilize an industry salary guide and factor in the cost of living for each city that we have employees," said Gwen Griffin, president and CEO of Griffin Communications Group. "As a result, our team members know that they are being fairly compensated based on their experience and skill set. We hire the best and we don't make them ask for what they deserve."
Give the process a few days, then if you haven't heard back, make another appointment to discuss the decision or the lack of a decision.
Hopefully, this will all go your way. In the unfortunate case that it does not, ask if your manager can tell you why and what you can do better to increase your chances in a few months. Then take that information and make it happen.
Above all, be professional, courteous, and appreciative through the entire process. That will be remembered for the next time.
Dayna Steele is the creator of Your Daily Success Tip and the author of 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day. Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele.