Quiz: How not to ask for a raise

Do you really know how to ask for a raise?

If you're psyching yourself up to ask for a raise by thinking, "The worst they can say is 'no,'" you may already be in trouble. Requesting a pay increase can be a fickle business maneuver and how you go about it may affect the answer.

Do you know the right way to ask for a raise? Find out by taking this quiz.

1. Although everybody would like a bigger paycheck, how do you generally feel about your pay?
A. It's hardly enough to live on, especially with the vacations and purchases I'd like to make in the future.
B. I think I've deserved a raise for quite some time now and have made it clear on multiple occasions.
C. I've been at this pay level for several years but have taken on new responsibilities, so I think it's fair that I be paid more.
D. I'd like a bigger paycheck but trust my company to decide when I deserve it.

2. How proactive are you about your compensation, career and title?
A. I have a lot of goals that require a bigger paycheck and have told my boss before that my expensive apartment requires a raise.
B. I'm proactive; I tell my boss on a weekly basis I deserve more money for the work I do and won't take on any new responsibilities until I'm compensated.
C. I've added value to my company and have been asked to take on more responsibilities, and my boss has told me I'm valued.
D. I've held the same position for five years and have taken on new responsibilities but still have the same title and pay.

3. How's your company's business performance?
A. It's struggling to make a profit right now, just like me.
B. I think it's been doing well, but I have been making my own finances the focus at work.
C. My company's been busy but is performing well.
D. I'm not really sure -- I haven't heard any news and don't want to bother anybody.

4. Can you explain why you think you deserve a raise?
A. If I want to afford my vacations, rent, new technology, groceries, and credit card and restaurant bills, I need to make more money.
B. I've told the company of my value repeatedly and that I deserve a raise because of the work I do.
C. I know the exact amount of money I've saved my company while increasing revenue, and I have also come up with some ideas for better management. I also have several positive performance reviews on file.
D. I do exactly what I'm told and don't question leadership.

5. Do you know the right moment to ask for a raise?
A. The past three times I've asked for raises have been around holidays or at the end of the fiscal year.
B. I ask for a raise every payday.
C. When my manager is planning the budget or a performance review is coming up, I send my boss a courtesy email saying that I have several strong points I'd like to discuss regarding a pay increase.
D. I wouldn't ask for a raise -- it's more appropriate to wait for the company to bring it up.

Results

Mostly A's: The suffering soul act
Although you may have expensive taste, that's not a good enough reason to expect a raise. It's not the responsibility of your company to fund your lifestyle choices -- it's up to you as the worker to prove your worth to the company and that you're a good investment. While your own budget may need some attention, find ways to improve the financial condition of the company before you make your case that there's enough money for you to receive a bigger paycheck.

Mostly B's: The badgering approach
Persistently bringing up money and raises won't do you any favors if you're looking for a bigger paycheck. Managers are interested in rewarding workers who have proved their worth to the company and are moving into leadership positions. Instead of focusing on what you think the company owes you, make a case for what you've done for the company.

Mostly C's: The valuable worker argument
Making your case as a valuable worker and backing it up with quantified proof is the right way to ask for a pay increase. Go through past performance reviews for both positive and negative feedback. The positive can strengthen your argument and the negative can be points you improve upon and offer as proof that you've grown in your job.

Mostly D's: The strong and silent type
Timing is important when it comes to asking for a raise, but biding your time may mean you're missing opportunities. Your career should focus on what's next, including higher titles, bigger responsibilities and increased pay. Organize your responsibilities and tasks and compare them to your pay and time at the company to see if it's the right time to go after a raise.