By Vickie Elmer
Picture the payday ahead: A 10 percent pay raise plus three extra vacation days.
If you want this to be more than wishful thinking, pull out your goals and get your game on for the performance review and raise season that's just ahead. Most companies hand out merit raises after the first of the year. Next year, in U.S. metropolitan areas, raises will average between 2.9 to 3.1 percent, according to WorldatWork, which focuses on compensation research.
Here are five suggestions on how you can show why you're worth more, courtesy of Jim Hopkinson, a blogger and author of Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You.
1. Show recent successes.
Your boss is more likely to overlook a mistake early in the year if you rack up some wins in the last six to eight weeks. Plus some managers are plagued by a "What have you done for me lately?" syndrome, Hopkinson writes. So, roll up your sleeves, push hard and make sure you have some recent successes.
2. Pounce on pet projects.
"Every company has their big project, the thing that gets the most buzz," said Hopkinson. Lately, it's been anything around mobile or apps or video storytelling. You want to contribute to that. And, if there's an in-house contest or an appeal to recommend ideas to aid the company, "that's just screaming for someone to step up and get noticed," he said. He knows one woman who did that and won the competition to "put herself on the map." It shows your team spirit and also makes a good bullet point for your review, he noted.
This is important if you're going for a promotion or considering seeking a job elsewhere that pays more. When Hopkinson speaks to student groups, he asks them how many own their own domain. Usually, only 10 to 20 percent do. "They're not controlling their message," he said. Hopkinson is so passionate about this that he's created a site, Getyournametoday.com (which is affiliated with GoDaddy) to show people how to do it, easily.
4. Practice your pitch.
For some, developing bullet points may be enough preparation to guide the conversation with your boss. But anyone who gets nervous or has trouble speaking up for what they want may want to practice some specific answers and comments, especially to questions that could derail your raise. This allows you to give a strong response and deflect or neutralize the most likely roadblocks.
5. Bring along a brag report.
This could be your digital portfolio, packed with visuals and stats, showing how you influenced the business in the last year. Or it could be a one-page bulleted list of accomplishments, broken into key categories. Some of them clearly must show bottom-line impact -- how you saved money or made money or helped others do that -- and others must align with your boss's goals and priorities for the year. Start working on your "Success Portfolio" well ahead of your review date, so you can give your bosses time to see all that you have accomplished.
One final piece of advice: Stay cool, and be prepared to wait a few days after your meeting, Hopkinson says. Just because you've been working on this for 10 days doesn't mean your boss is prepared or able to give you the 7 percent raise you've requested. She may need to get her boss' buy-in -- especially if the raise is as big as you've been hoping.
Vickie Elmer writes about consumer issues, careers and workplace subjects for The New York Times, Fortune magazine, The Washington Post and other top tier media outlets. The mother of three also co-owns Mity Nice LLC, a small social cart business based in Ann Arbor, Mich., which donates to more than a dozen charities each summer and fall.
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