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How NOT to Get a Raise

Laura Rowley, who writes the Money and Happiness column in Yahoo
Finance, devotes a recent column to getting a raise in a soft
economy. With tough economic times upon us, we’re all finding it a little
tougher to make ends meet, even in knowledge-based fields such as science and
technology. Rowley’s article is titled, "Seven Ways to Get a Raise in a Soft
Economy," but she really discusses seven mistakes people make that prevent them
from getting a raise. Here are a few of those traps to avoid.

Mistake 1. Assuming you can’t get a raise. Human
Resources and Finance departments, particularly at academic institutions or
not-for-profit organizations, often make it seem like getting a raise is next to
impossible.  They need to set policies and salary structures to encourage
planning, effective budgeting, and financial transparency. And even in the best
of times, research money is tight somewhere. However, if you’re good at what you
do, you can still make a case for a raise, no matter what the intimidating
chisled-in-granite salary charts may say. Which brings us to …

Mistake No. 2. (Not) Justifying your request for a
raise.
Don’t make make your case for a raise on the price of gasoline or
Pampers for the kid, but on your value to the organization. Rowley offers a
number of tips, but the most important comes in a quote from executive coach
Robert Lorber, who says, "Look at what you can do that adds value" to the
organization. Have you thought of a new or different way of getting things done
in the lab that may have saved some money? Or did you suggest a potential
commercial application for some research findings? If you can show that an
increase in your pay is a bargain, your management will more likely see things
your way

Jumping ahead  …

Mistake No. 5. Promoting your unconventional style. Rowley
offers an interesting idea for using social networking services to get a raise,
or at least discover the dominant successful career path in your organization.
Managers of even the most off-beat or entrepreneurial organizations generally
like to reward staff who seem the most like themselves.  Rowley recommends
signing up for the networking service LinkedIn, then search for profiles of other staff
from your organization. From those profiles, you may be able to find pattens or
similarities for how the more successful staff members have made it, and you can
plan your own ascent up the organizational ladder accordingly.

Rowley’s other four tips are useful as
well, and in some case, quite amusing, such as …

Mistake No. 3. Asking at the wrong time … like just after
you’ve come back from a vacation.