Make sure you're prepared before asking for a raise.

Make sure you're prepared before asking for a raise. Credit: sxc.hu image

As the economy picks up and employers consider resuscitating plans for hiring or launching new endeavors, some of their loyal employees' thoughts may be turning to raises. This in the wake of at least a year of pay freezes, salary cuts and canceled bonuses.

Though no one's painting a rosy picture, compared to last year "fewer companies are planning negative action" regarding pay and layoffs this year, says Ted Turnasella, principal of Comp-unications, a compensation consulting firm in West Islip. That's based on responses from 40 area employers to an economic conditions survey he conducted earlier in the year. To increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for your paycheck, consider his suggestions:

Assess: Collect plenty of information to get a good fix on how things are looking in your industry and organization. If you work for a public company, basic earnings data is easier to come by. If you work for a private concern, you'll need to turn to the grapevine, says Turnasella. And, keep an eye out for employee memos, newsletters and media reports announcing new accounts, initiatives and other indicators of improving health.

Compare: On sites like Salary.com and Payscale.com you can get a sense of how your salary stacks up against others in the area for similar jobs. Check professional associations for industry salary surveys. And ask recruiters you know for an assessment of how your salary compares to others in the same field.

Approach: If it looks like you can make a case, Turnasella says rather than submitting demands to the boss, take a gentler approach and "ask permission to ask," by suggesting a conversation about your contributions to the company, compensation and what the future might hold.