Q. I've never asked for a raise before, but now that I have a family, I'd really like to get a fatter paycheck. What's the best way to raise the question?
A. Do some homework first, says Michael O'Malley, author of Are You Paid What You're Worth? Research salary ranges for your field by contacting trade organizations or colleagues at other companies.
Next, tell your manager you'd like to schedule a meeting. Begin by questioning any discrepancy between what you're earning and the norm. "Our pay scale seems a little out of step with the industry," you might say. "Could we take another look at it?" If you're comparatively well paid, list any extras you bring to the job, such as added responsibilities or unusual skills. Should the boss counter by mentioning the company's slump in sales or your holiday bonus, say, "True, but my contribution has gone above and beyond my position."
What not to do: Bring up your family or any other reason for needing more money. He'll need to be convinced that you're helping his bottom line before he'll help yours.