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Your Startup Life: How Do I Ask for a Raise?

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Thursdays at the Huffington Post, Rana Florida, CEO of The Creative Class Group, shares her conversations with successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders about how they manage their businesses, their relationships, their careers, and more. She also answers readers' questions about how they can optimize their lives. Send your questions about work, life, or relationships to rana@creativeclass.com

I'm a 30-year-old supply chain manager who has been with the same company for three years, stuck in the same position. I am performing well, saving the company millions of dollars. I often travel internationally to meet with suppliers, negotiating deals and improving processes. I have been getting tiny increases of two to three per cent annually, but I am about to start a family and desperately need to move up the corporate ladder and get a raise.

My boss says I'm doing a great job but that his hands are tied until a position opens up that he can promote me into. There is not a lot of turnover in our business. How do I get this moving in a productive manner while not waiting for something that might never happen?

David
Long Beach, California

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Photo credit: Flickr user HALIbueromoebel

So many people are afraid to ask for a raise. You are not alone when feeling anxiety about the issue. But you need to remember it is not your boss's money, so don't be such a wuss! You need to go after it; things typically don't land in your lap so speak up and be direct. You should know that your increases have been above the national average. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.2 per cent over the year, compared to the 2.1 per cent increase for the previous 12-month period. Wages and salaries increased 1.6 per cent for the current 12-month period." However, if you're doing an outstanding job, your work should be rewarded. Any good company knows that great talent is hard to come by. You need to put a plan into place.

Here's how to do it in five easy steps:

1. Let your boss know that you'd like to schedule a meeting with him or her and human resources to discuss your future.

2. Make a bulleted list of all your accomplishments since joining the company. Don't leave anything off that list. Bring supporting materials, financial documents, plans, press coverage. Build up it up with supporting evidence of your achievements. Most bosses are not aware of all your successes.

3. Benchmark the talent for similar positions at other companies, both in your region and elsewhere.

4. Start meeting with recruiters and applying for other jobs. The more leverage you have the better position you'll be in to negotiate. Plus it's good to asses the job market.

5. Stay positive, no one wants to hear someone whine. Let your boss know that you are committed to the company and you enjoy your work, and you're more than happy to take on additional responsibility. Share your list of successes. Then present your financial benchmarks, making it perfectly clear how much of a raise you'd like and the timeline for getting there. Make it very clear, though, that while you love the company, you do have financial needs for your growing family and you are prepared to look elsewhere.

Author Selana Rezvani gives some great advice as well in her book Pushback: How Smart Women Ask And Stand Up For What They Want. With HR in the meeting, everything will be documented and filed; no more hot air. Your boss has been stringing you along, using a bureaucratic excuse not to promote you. Even if they don't have a position available, they can find a way to give you more responsibility and increase your pay. If they want you, they will find a way to keep you.

Be strong and good luck!