YOU have been assigned challenging new projects over the past year. Though your workload is heavy, you are coping well. However, you feel you are not being rewarded adequately for your contributions to the company.

You don’t have to quit your job to find one that pays better, but you do need to speak up. Here’s how you can negotiate successfully for a pay raise:

Do your homework

* Get an idea of your worth. It is important to find out the average salary for the role that you do. Talk to people in your industry and use salary surveys that can be found on job recruitment websites.

However, you also need to keep in mind your performance, level of experience, length of time in your company and the frequency with which you go the extra mile to perform tasks outside your standard job scope.

* Make a list of accomplishments. Remember that the people who decide your salary are concerned with the company’s budget, not your personal budget. They are looking for proven results from you.

Keep a scoreboard that keeps track of the high-value projects you have completed and the results achieved. Or gather sales reports or copies of client testimonials that highlight your outstanding service.

Decide what you want

* Be open about your desired salary. While you can give your boss a number first or let him initiate the salary negotiation, you should have a specific figure in mind. Whether that figure is a 10 per cent increment or an extra week of leave will depend on your boss’ assessment of your performance and current situation.

* Propose alternatives. If your boss or company is unable to meet your desired salary request, prepare an alternative means of compensation. It could be a work-from-home privilege or even a bigger performance-based bonus.

Ask for a meeting

* Time it right. No boss has to give you a raise simply because you want one. A good time to approach your manager is if you have been with the company for a period of time and have not had a raise, your research shows that you are not compensated at a level on par with your colleagues, or if your responsibilities have significantly increased.

Tell your boss you have something important to discuss. Be sensitive to his stress levels and workload, or your requests will be seen as an unwelcome distraction. Arrange a meeting that will enable you to make your case and sell your argument.

Practise

* Practise with a friend. Rehearse your meeting with a friend. Make your case and play out all the possible outcomes.

* Anticipate objections. Think of everything your boss may bring up as a reason not to give you a raise. For instance, this is not the right time or the budget is insufficient. Prepare responses to every possible objection.

Make your pitch

* When to ask. Friday afternoon is normally a good time to ask for a pay rise because it gives your boss time over the weekend to go over your pitch, and to work out how he will justify your salary increment to higher management.

* Stay calm. Do not be emotional in the negotiation. This is a conversation between you and your superior about your proven value to the company. Do not become defensive, get angry, beg or cry.

* Don’t issue an ultimatum. No manager likes to be threatened by “more pay or I quit”. Remember that your goal is to get the raise, not annoy your boss.

* Be professional. Never use personal reasons to justify your request for a pay raise. “I want to buy a brand new car” is not a valid reason. Focus on your professional achievements, and discuss how you can contribute more to your company.

Evaluate the outcome

* Make it official. If you get a pay rise, congratulations! But remember to have your boss or the HR department put it in writing. When does it go into effect? Is it retroactive? If you were given additional benefits or privileges, ensure that they are documented as well.

* Prepare a backup plan. If a pay rise is not in your company’s budget, consider negotiating other benefits, such as a flexible schedule or a bigger performance-based bonus. If these requests are denied, ask your boss what goals need to be achieved to get a future pay raise. Arrange a date for a follow-up meeting to discuss your progress towards these goals.

* Be polite. Remember to be courteous and professional. It always helps to emphasise that you want to stay long-term with a company that supports your professional and financial goals.