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Profitt Report: How to ask your boss for a raise

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Here's a scary fact; if you fail to negotiate your first salary, you stand to lose out on more than $500,000 by the time you're 60-years-old according to www.salary.com.

They also say about one-fifth of the work force never negotiates their salary.

Still, it seems like just about every employed person has this question at one time or another: how do I discuss salary with my employer?

"They largest raise you'll ever receive is the one you're going to negotiate when you start the position," said Mike Major, director of career services with Saginaw Valley State University.

Major speaks with college grads about this a lot, but it applies to anyone starting a new job: make sure to figure out an appropriate wage once you've been offered the position.

"At the opening stages of that relationship, you don't want hard feelings on either side," he said.

It can be nerve-wracking to knock on the boss's door, but Major said you do your homework, you'll be more confident going into their office.

He suggests "knowing what is the market rate for your position your job title and the special skill set you might have."

There are plenty of online resources where you can figure our your market rate.

SVSU Career Services suggests the following websites to research your market pay: salary.com, glassdoor.com, onetonline.org, salaryexpert.com, payscale.com or naceweb.org.

Major also points out that you should check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the cost of living index for your area to determine an appropriate wage. For example, a salary of $50,000 in mid-Michigan is quite a bit different than the same wage in New York City.

Also, don't just look at the pay - look at the total package including health benefits, the retirement package and employer 401K contributions.

However, what if you've been with your employer for a while and you're looking for a raise?

"Those annual reviews are times you should really be discussing your salary," said Certified Financial Planner Margie Shard with Shard Financial Services, Inc.

Shard suggests highlighting how you've gone above and beyond your job description, and avoiding discussing your basic job duties. Then, offer up a number.

"Always start high, because if you start high, you leave room for negotiation," she said.

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