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My salary has doubled, but i'm still underpaid. How do i get a raise?
Working your way up the corporate ladder can leave you with skimpier pay than you deserve. Here's what to do. Plus, do employees seeking to move up have an "insider advantage"?
By Anne Fisher, FORTUNE

Making career moves
NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Dear Annie:
I've been working at an investment firm for over 10 years now. I came in at a very low level, just to get a foot in the door, but eventually moved up to a portfolio-manager position and am now director of marketing. My problem is, even though my salary has doubled over the past decade, I started out so cheap that my pay is still way below what people with my job are earning elsewhere. It's also much less than I'm actually worth to the firm, based on my performance. The CEO makes all the pay decisions here, and I know that if I ask for a raise, he'll point to how much my compensation has already increased. Another hurdle is that he comes from a sales background and is very skilled at talking people into (or out of) things. Would I be crazy to ask for more money? He has fired people in the past just for asking. --Because I'm Worth It

Dear BIWI:
He's fired people just for asking? Wow. Well, he's no doubt counting on that to discourage others, such as yourself, from approaching him on the subject. But it obviously bugs you that you're not making what you're worth, so talk to him anyway. You need to go armed with a proposal based on hard facts. Write up a brief memo that succinctly spells out 1) the data you've collected on what your peers at other firms earn and any other supporting facts you can muster, such as salary ranges mentioned in ads for jobs similar to yours; 2) any and all evidence of how your performance contributes to your firm's sales and profits.

The more facts you have at your fingertips, the harder it will be for your CEO to "sales talk" you. Then, state a specific request: What kind of raise would satisfy you? A 5 percent raise or a 10 percent one? Another point: Is there anything -- stock options, extra paid vacation, a company car -- you would be willing to accept instead of a salary hike, or along with a smaller raise than you're seeking? If so, that would give both you and your CEO a bit of room to negotiate.

One question: Have you given much thought to what you'll do if he fires you? Given his track record, it might be smart to figure that out now. But don't be intimidated out of asking. If this company really will not pay you what you're worth, you may be better off elsewhere.

Dear Annie: Now that the job market is finally starting to pick up a little, I've had a couple of offers from companies where I had interviewed two or three years ago. But what I'd really like is to stay at the company where I work now and go after a higher-level finance-manager position that has opened up. I happen to know that several outside candidates are also competing for the job. Is there an "insider advantage"? What are my chances?
--The Insider

Dear TI:
Interestingly, it seems there is more of an "insider advantage" than there was five years ago. A new study by Development Dimensions International (DDI) (ddiworld.com) says that 40 percent of U.S. managers are planning to increase hiring this year. In 2004, more than half -- 53 percent -- of management positions were filled from within, up from 44 percent in 1999. Scott Erker, a DDI vice president, expects that trend to continue or even accelerate. "Last year's increase represents a realization that there is untapped talent in organizations," he says. "Companies also see providing opportunities (for current employees) as a retention strategy, which has the added benefit of placing someone who's already familiar with the organization."

So, assuming your qualifications are roughly equal to the outsiders', your chances are probably pretty good. One tip: When applying for the job, there's no need to mention the offers you've received from other companies. You want to be promoted because you're the best person for the job, not because you threatened to quit if you didn't get it.  Top of page

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