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Stock market be damned. The Black and Latinx employment rate is up, and now it’s time to think about growth. According to PayScale’s recent salary survey, 57 percent of participants have never negotiated an increase in pay—that means most folks aren’t even asking for more money. Fear is a big reason for the silence. If you have a job—whether it’s great or not—many folks are afraid that asking for a raise will compromise any favor they have with supervisors, and somehow place them closer to the challenge block. There are also those who assume that if raises are going around they’ll automatically get one, so there’s no need to ask. Talking to your boss about a raise and/or promotion requires some strategy. “There should be a clear contribution that has been made. You should know what value you’re bringing to the table based on the company’s goals and objectives,” says Ash Cash, a personal finance expert. “And make sure you can quantify what you’ve done.”

Ash Cash breaks down how what you should know before you invite your boss to the table to talk money.

  1. Industry Standard. Most folks don’t know whether they’re being under, fairly or overpaid based on the compensation standard in their fields. Take time and research standard salaries for your industry. If you’re making less than what’s fair, be armed with the facts when you ask for more. If you’re being fairly or highly compensated it’s important to go hard and present what you’re bringing to the table that merits more.
  2. Check Your Rep. Your reputation at the office is your most important negotiating tool. What’s your work performance history? What projects have you excelled in? Which pitches led to wins for the company? But your reputation doesn’t end there. How do you get along with your colleagues? Who are your allies? Know all of this before you sit at the table so you can be ready to sing your own praises and discuss any issues.
  3. Know Your Industry. It’s not enough to talk about what you’ve done, you also have to be able to present what great ideas you have in the pipeline. In order to do that effectively, you have to be well-informed about industry trends, standards and innovation.
  4. Understand Perceived vs. Actual Power. Take the time to find out who actually has the power to approve your increase. For example, your department head may be your direct supervisor and have the authority to sign off on your raise but her junior assistant may have her ear—are you on good terms with him? Have a good understanding of all the players and how they can impact your career.
  5. Create Plan A…and B. The goal is to get a raise effective immediately, but there are scores of things that may prevent that, like budget or time of the year. If your boss denies or delays the raise for any reason, make sure you create an action plan with next steps before you wrap up the conversation. For example, can you revisit the conversation in three months when more funds are available, or perhaps after you complete two more revenue generating projects? Whatever it is, make it specific and time-based so you are on solid ground for the next conversation.