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Asking for raise tricky during downturn

Posted October 9, 2009

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— Making ends meet can be particularly tough at a time when expenses are rising faster than income, but officials said employees need to be careful when asking for a raise in tight economy.

"Would I recommend it? No," said Cheryl Campbell, a business professor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. "If it's a change in family situation and it's a dire need for a raise, then I would say consider asking."

Campbell recommended that employees do their homework before going in to speak with their bosses. Start by checking into the company's financial situation, she said.

Money in hands Tips for asking for a raise in this economy

"Anyone who works for a company can kind of get a feel, if they're paying attention," she said.

“If your company is severely suffering from the economic downturn, then I don’t think it would be wise to ask for one,” she said.

Some companies still offer raises to valuable employees even after cutting staff, but career experts said not to expect too much of a bump in pay.

Requests for raises should be done in person, not through e-mail, Campbell said, and the employee should be prepared to sell himself or herself.

"If you've been given a lot of extra duties and a lot of extra requirements, then you might use that" when asking, she said. "Be very gracious in your request."

Still, many employees are too jittery in the current job market to ask for a raise.

"No," paralegal Lisa Widhalm said when asked if she planned to seek a raise. "I think people need to give it more time for the economy to settle out and then ask for a raise."

Widhalm gave her employer, The Mitchell Law Group, credit for recognizing good performance in good times.

“Fortunately for us, our bosses are very easy to talk to, so I would definitely feel comfortable asking for a raise,” she said.


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