Salary negotiation can be difficult, and many people feel uncomfortable doing it.

They fail to plan and control the situation, and end up handling it poorly.

But there are constructive ways to approach it and techniques to achieve good outcomes.

Your first step should be to determine your market worth; employment ads and trade magazines are good sources.

You can also talk to headhunters. Be prepared Ð it's not just a matter of asking for more money, but also requesting the chance for more responsibility and an expansion of your job scope.

Karin Clarke, regional director at Randstad Singapore and Malaysia, a recruitment and HR service provider, shares strategic tips that can help you secure that pay raise you've been coveting.

Q Who should you go to if you're unhappy with your increment?

The first person you should approach is your boss the person whom you report to.

It's important to have open discussions with your immediate manager with regard to any pay concerns.

Discuss how you can improve your performance and contribution to the organisation in a way that will help you gain more responsibility and earn the additional remuneration.

If you are still unhappy, the human resources department should be your next stop. Whenever possible, keep your supervisor informed, as HR will seek his opinion before making any changes to your role and remuneration package.

Q What's the most tactful way to broach the subject?

Asking for a pay raise is a business conversation about facts and figures.

Rather than relying on emotion, concentrate on justifying why you deserve it. This means demonstrating your professional value by providing concrete examples of your achievements.

Q What do you say when your responsibilities have increased over the year but your increment does not reflect this?

You need to be able to demonstrate the facts with tangible information and proof of your achievements.

Provide copies of positive client, peer and management e-mails, reports, results and achievements.

It will help if you can prove that your role has expanded with more duties and responsibilities, or that you have a greater rate of efficiency or increased revenue generation or performance.

Q Should you ever compare your salary increment with those of your colleagues?

No.

Your remuneration should be private.

You are better off doing your own research to find out how much you, your position and level of experience are worth in the market. Search for appropriate salary surveys that show the wage range for your position and years of experience.

Speak to others in the same field to find out how much they think is fair for you.

Q Is it still possible to negotiate a pay raise after the company's annual salary review has already been decided?

Timing is important.

If your organisation is undergoing cost-cutting, it might not be the best time. However, this shouldn't stop you if you feel strongly enough about the issue.

So if the raise that your boss offers is less than what you'd expected, don't be afraid to take a moment to reiterate the key points highlighting your achievements.

Q What should you never do in a negotiation?

Never issue your manager a non-negotiable demand.

In 99 per cent of cases, threatening to quit is guaranteed to backfire.

A two-way conversation is always more valuable than an aggressive ultimatum, and is much more likely to get you the pay raise you deserve.

Q What if despite your best efforts your company is not in the position to give you a raise at that time?

Don't let your disappointment get in the way of continuing to do a good job.

It's important to maintain a positive attitude.

Persist with keeping a record of your successes and achievements. A three-month interval is a good time to approach your manager to reassess your role and remuneration.

But if they still do not meet your aspirations, it might be time to look externally at other roles.

Q If your requests for better remuneration are rejected, when is the right time to move on?

This is a case-by-case scenario.

If you feel that your current employer can't meet your career aspirations, has not lived up to its promises or that you've not been rewarded with a pay raise you believe you should have earned then, yes, it's time to find another career opportunity.

However, it is advisable to find that next job before you resign.

Remember to exit in a professional manner, with your reputation intact. The old adage don't burn your bridges is very true.