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Caroline Rules: Work

How to Approach Your Boss About Getting a Raise

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: While it's not the sexiest topic, getting that end-of-year raise or bonus at work is certainly on many people's minds as 2010 begins to wind down and it comes time to shop for holiday presents. Like other relationships, communication with your boss is key, and women are generally notorious for not really asking for what they want in terms of salary. As someone who's witnessed the ins and outs of running a family business, what's your advice for working women who are looking to increase their paychecks? Should they approach their supervisors and be direct about what they want? What's the best way to go about this?

Caroline's Ruling: I would have to say that you have to assess your individual situation. How long have you been employed there? When, if ever, was your last raise? Is there a strict company policy regarding raises, and did you agree to those policies when hired? Are you an asset, or do you just show up and fill chair space all day? Basically what I'm trying to say is before you go and ask for a raise, you have to be honest with yourself and decide whether or not the request is warranted.

I'm a firm believer in reaching for the brass ring in life. If you want something, ask for it. When I graduated high school I went to work for my dad, and every morning I would ride to work with him. During that car ride every day he would talk to me about whatever was on his mind at the moment. There were commutes that were pure hell, and there were commutes that really resonated with me. I'm going to share something that he told me that I've passed on to my children and live by every single day. It's not as profound as you may think. He just told me never to be intimidated by anyone. I remember it like it was yesterday: “Caroline, remember one thing: No one is better than you, and you are no better than anyone else. We all put our pants on one leg at a time.”

So my answer to the question is simply this: Assess the situation. If you feel your request is warranted, make an appointment to see your employer. Don't be intimidated. Remember, they weren't born into that position; the chances are pretty good that they were in your shoes at some point in their career. Present your case clearly and confidently, and ask for what you want in a professional, direct manner. If you get the raise, great, good for you! If not, listen to the reasons why the request wasn't granted. It may have nothing to do with you or your performance at all. Don't take it personally. Feel out the situation, and if appropriate, ask if they would reconsider your request at a later date.

Most important thing of all: Do not cut your nose off to spite your face. Unless you are severely underpaid and overworked, don't play the tough-guy role and threaten to quit if you don't get the raise. The job market isn't exactly easy pickings these days. Be patient; your time will come.

Last and certainly not least, don't ever be intimidated by anyone. Remember, we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and if you're a woman, never underestimate your self-worth. Reach for the brass ring wearing a pencil skirt and a badass pair of heels just because you can!

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules: Work
How to Approach Your Boss About Getting a Raise
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