Jobs. They are probably the reason you’re in college in the first place. Everyone wants a good job, better job, or the best job they can obtain. If you’re one of the lucky few who have their dream job and pay, then there’s no need to keep reading. If you’re still searching, however, or wondering how to get a promotion to indicate your value to future employers, this is for you.

So what happens once you have the dream job? Does ambition stop there? Are you to be simply content with what you have, or do you aim for more? I’m of the belief that people can be content but often aren’t entirely satisfied when it comes to salary, no matter the amount of money. If the question were raised to everyday people, I think I can safely assume that they would pose no opposition toward earning more money annually. Sadly, there is no magical unicorn out there with the ability to grant you the wish of a more attractive salary. Don’t fret, though, because there are some things you can do today, in the interview process, and on the job to position yourself for more green.

Be Aware of Timing
Don’t pick a bad time to ask your boss for a raise. If you’re at an interview and your soon-to-be boss is making you an offer, then it is the perfect time to attempt to negotiate. However, if you’ve been with a company for a while and it isn’t doing as well as it once was, or there have been performance issues, it probably isn’t the best time to ask for a pay increase.

Build a Case for Yourself
Before you go into any meeting about evaluating your earnings, be sure to build a case for yourself. Have you helped people in other departments? Have you come to work early every day, and in doing so, helped evade some potentially horrible mistakes that could have occurred in the workplace? Make an inventory of your skill set, including additional skills you’ve obtained over the years that go above and beyond what is required for your job. Put together a portfolio of what you’ve done in the past and what you’d like to help your company accomplish in the future. Make sure your employer knows you’re thinking long term about what you’re able to bring to the table.

Know How Much Your Position is Worth
Do some research on your position about what the required skill set is and how much other employees are paid on average in your position at your location. Then tailor how you will approach your negotiation process and how much is reasonable to ask for. The key word is reasonable. Plenty of people go into a negotiation room wanting to get a raise but have unrealistic expectations and are more often told no.

Practice What You Will Say and How Before Saying it

The best thing you can do beforehand is to practice what you will say and how. Practice with a family member or close friend. Be mindful of what you choose to wear. The idea is to be appealing and professional, while making a strong, logical case for yourself.

Know What Not to Say
Don’t complain to your employer. Don’t tell them if that they don’t give you a pay increase, you’ll leave. Don’t say things like you haven’t been given a raise in however many years. You have to give your employer an incentive to want to pay you more. Your employer wants to know what more you can do for them, which brings me to the next point…

Manage Your Emotions and Expectations
Asking for more money can be a very uncomfortable experience. You might feel entitled to more pay or feel like you’ve been previously mistreated. Whatever the case, keep your emotions in check. During a meeting of this nature, it is ill-advised to use it as a time to bash your employer, start crying, or have any sort of dramatic emotional response. Know that there is a chance you will be told “no,” and the reason may or may not have anything to do with you. Many factors go into whether or not your boss can afford to give you a raise.

Consider Any Offer Carefully

If you get rejected for a pay increase, it is okay. People are told no every day, and they go on to do great things and continue to add consistent value to the places they choose to work. Dust yourself off, and keep moving along. If you are, however, offered a raise, consider your offer very carefully. Think about your goals and your needs and determine for yourself if you are willing to take the offer, or attempt to renegotiate for something better.

Asking for a pay increase is never fun, but the icky experience is sometimes essential, particularly for young adults looking to start a family. Just keep in mind that while you work hard to increase your monetary value, you need to demonstrate that you’re someone who will continue to have a record of excellence, someone who will take your employer to new heights.

Sources: Forbes, The Guardian, CIO, Salary Tutor, Salary.com