So you think you need a bigger pay cheque. With rising prices of fuel and food, who can blame you?
Yet asking for more money is, for many, about as appealing as negotiating a mine-ridden maze.
It seems straightforward: Approach the boss, tell him how the company is failing you and how much happier you would be if you were better compensated.
The boss might agree and set the lumbering bureaucratic machinery in motion to give you what you want. Or he might blow up and send you packing.
Human resource experts and company heads told the media that chancing your arm over pay is perfectly acceptable in today's work environment.
But they stress that you must first be sure that you have indeed made a 'significant contribution' and that the firm can actually afford your raise.
Here are seven suggestion tips to get you ready for the all-important meeting.
- Do your homework
Just as you would not buy stock without reading up on the firm. Do not go into the meeting blindly.
Research the market rate for the skills and experience you have before approaching a salary negotiation.
Do this by approaching recruitment professionals who know market trends, looking at salary guides firms sometimes produce or checking job ads which sometimes include salary pointers.
- What to ask for
Both monetary and non-monetary compensation are important negotiable areas, say experts.
While an immediate pay rise or bonus is clearly desirable, you should consider benefits such as gym memberships, parking privileges, flexible working hour, more leave time as well as incentives such as stock or shares options.
Some organizations, for instance, has an employee share purchase plan to encourage staff to own the organization's share - so they feel like they have a stake in the company.
'It forms a stronger sense of alignment between employees... and helps the organization retain talent,' said Ms Helen Smith, Head of planning and employee communications.
- How to ask: Valid and Invalid reasons
Experts say you ought to highlight your contribution to the organization - but do not appear demanding or overly aggressive. If you have taken on additional tasks or done work outside of your job scope, document it and then emphasize this to show your flexibility and willingness to contribute more than what is in your job description.
'If you are in a sales role, you can highlight the amount of revenue you have brought to the company. If you are in a non-sales role, you can highlight the amount of savings you have brought through the work you have done'.
Do not go to your boss and say: 'I've been offered this much by another company - will you match it? If not, I'm off.' Or: 'My friend has been offered such a package; I expect the same.'
Never mention personal financial concerns. 'That personal expenses have gone up, or you have multiple student loans to pay off or you need to earn more to pay for that new car, are all irrelevant. Compensation is tied directly to the employee's value to the firm.'
- Appropriate increment percentage to ask
First, be aware of what the market is paying for your type of job in your industry and how your company is performing.
While there is no set formula for how much to ask, try phrasing the discussion along the lines of you being a little disappointed with your increment or you feel you should earn more because you have done well.
'Don't just say 'I expect an x per cent increase' with no logical argument, as it will look like you are plucking figures from the air'.
- Trump cards one can play
Businesses are heavily dependent on their top people in today's talent-short market and this is a driving factor for increasing salaries and bonuses.
To convey why your mix of skills and experience is worth the raise, it is important to focus on common ground and achievable goals. Enter the discussion armed with a range of options and figure out what elements you are willing to compromise on.
More organizations are placing greater emphasis on the variable component of one's salary, so there is an incentive to do a good job.
- Timing is key
Be aware of your firm's performance. If it is struggling or has just laid off staff, there is little chance of a pay rise for you. Some firms evaluate pay only during performance or appraisal reviews, or before finalizing the annual budget.
Avoid times when your boss is under deadline pressure, stressed or struggling to play catch-up after a two-week absence.
But another organizationís Director said: 'As long as there is good justification, any time is a good time to ask. If he is worth his salt, it is always in the interest of the company to consider (his requests).'
- Be realistic
At all times, be aware of what the market is paying for your type of job in your industry, as well as how the market and your company are performing. Do not be arrogant, stay calm and do not commit the ultimate blunder: thinking you are indispensable and waving a letter in the air.
Dennis Kwan is a trainer, speaker, author, a volunteer at Changi prison and also a Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner, Hypno-Therapist, Time-line Practitioner. He graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Commerce. He is also certified in Project Management Professional (PMP), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Certified ISO 9001:2000 Auditor. For more information, please visit his website.