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The Question:

I know times are tough right now at a lot of companies. That's the case with my industry especially. However, I need to ask for a raise. I am not paid that much, but I really like my job and my workplace. We have fun and have a fair amount of autonomy to get things done our way. I've been working here for five years with minimal raises and I have at least 15 years of experience in my industry. I've been very successful in my role and have won several awards in recent years – and my efforts have been noticed inside and outside my company.

While I could be making a lot more money at another company doing a similar job, I like where I am. In this kind of a climate, how can I go to my boss and tell him I really need a raise, or at least another week of vacation? I only get three weeks a year but my wife gets weeks. In past I've taken unpaid leave so we could be off work at the same time. I'm not one to toot my own horn much or brag to my boss about how great I am. Do you have some tips on how I could broach this topic in a way I could win my case or the time off that I want?

The Answer:

Raises tend to happen in a couple of different circumstances. The most common is a cost of living increase, typically anywhere between 2 and 5 per cent. It sounds like this may be the type of raise you have been getting in the past.

It sounds to me that you would like a review of your compensation package, as you are looking for more salary and/or additional vacation time. Decide if you want one or the other, or both, and make it all part of the ask. Start by building a case for an increase in compensation.

Find out what the market rate is for your type of job, complete with your level of experience and education – and make sure your are comparing your company with one that is similar. For example, if you work for a non-profit, compare with another non-profit. It is important to know before you talk to your company that what you are asking for is what the market pays.

Most organizations have salary bands. The top of the band tends to be for employees that meet or exceed education and experience. Find out what the band is (your HR department should be able to provide that to you). See where you fall in the band, which would give an idea of how much to ask for.

Once you have done your research and you know what is a reasonable amount of money and vacation time to ask for, make an appointment with your supervisor. Say up front that you would like to be considered for a raise and have an amount or percentage in mind. Mention the way your role has evolved and what your responsibilities are now. Talk about how you want to continue to make a contribution to the company, but would like to be compensated differently. Make this an open and constructive conversation.

And remember, you do not get what you deserve – you get what you negotiate.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc. in Calgary.

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