Now's the Time; Here's the Technique - to Tap the Boss for a Raise

Article excerpt

The hot market in job prospects could mean a warm reception the next time you ask the boss for something ... like a raise.

Demand for goods and services is up; new employees are hard to find; and the boss knows that job hopping is now encouraged. In other words, you're someone worth keeping.

"It's a fabulous time to press for something better at work," says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement firm.

After dropping to a 24-year low in May, the unemployment rate edged up last month to 5 percent.

As short-term contract employment steadily replaces the lifetime job, employers feel increasingly uncertain about the longevity of their staff.

"I have been in business for 18 years, and I have never seen such a fluid marketplace with opportunity stamped all over it like today," says Jean Davis, a psychotherapist in Evanston, Ill. who provides career counseling.

Short on staff, long on money

Indeed, many companies can't meet demand because of labor shortages. With managers desperate to both lure and retain employees, some employees are pouncing on new opportunities.

Downsizing and layoffs persist in some industries, but in services and skilled manufacturing jobs - such as health care, information technology, and computerized machinery - positions go wanting.

Career counselors, experts in negotiation, and self-improvement gurus endorse a broad array of ways to wheedle "yes" from the boss.

One simple but potent suggestion: Work hard.

"In this economy, we think an opportunity will fall out of a tree into our laps, but there is no easy road. It's hard work," says Diane Lewis, president of Career Dimensions in Chicago.

Approach your boss after completion of an impressive project. Don't wing it. Be prepared, even to the point of writing out a script in advance - detailing your points of discussion and the possible responses.

Buttonhole the boss when you're ready to flaunt a catalog of your accomplishments and detail the brilliant masterstrokes to come. …