For those of you old enough to remember, there was a Smith Barney commercial in the 80s featuring the actor John Houseman that said, “We make money the old-fashioned way – we earn it.”

While the 80s were wrong-minded in so many ways (leg-warmers and Steve Guttenberg, anyone?), the times did tout working hard as a means to achieving one’s professional goals.

Flash-forward to the “00s” or “Aughts” or whatever you want to deem the last decade. Of late, we’ve encountered quite a few young souls who thought it was perfectly acceptable to ask for a raise or promotion for personal reasons, not because they had earned it by working hard, taking on more responsibility, exceeding expectations or being a true asset to their company, boss, coworkers or clients. Instead, they believed themselves deserving of more money or recognition at work because they were, for example, facing a rent hike; feeling frustrated or ashamed that friends of the same age had reached a higher rung at work; believing that he/she should receive more than the cost-of-living increase everyone at the company was getting (but giving no concrete explanation as to why they deserved more), and — our favorite — it was embarrassing for his/her parents that their golden child hadn’t yet been promoted.

Of course, we all have our personal issues. They just aren’t relevant when looking to be rewarded at work. (Jessica’s baby daughter sleeps in a glorified closet, for example, but she would never ask her boss for a raise because she wishes she could afford a real two-bedroom apartment. That is not her supervisor’s problem and should have no bearing on whether or not she deserves a raise or promotion.)

So, if you really feel you warrant more recognition at work – whether it’s a salary increase, a title change or flex time – make sure you go to your boss with legitimate business reasons. For starters, ask yourself:

  • Have I consistently delivered results? If so, what are they?
  • What new ideas or innovative thinking have I introduced that have helped my company/department operate more efficiently or effectively?
  • Do I go above and beyond my job description?
  • What is the market paying for a similar position to mine?
  • Have I been offered a higher paying position elsewhere but really want to stay at my current job? If so, why and what will prevent me from leaving?
  • Have I researched others companies who offer flex time and come up with a plan for how it can work for mine?

Then, prepare a case for why you feel you should be recognized. You want to go to your boss with a well-though out proposal for what you want and why.

In this economy, raises and promotions are rarely doled out freely, so it’s even more vital to map out exactly why you deserve to be rewarded for what you contribute in the workplace. Keeping up with the Joneses or simply not being able to afford the latest pair of Manolos (no matter how upsetting that may be – we get it!) is unfortunately not going to cut it.

How have you prepared to ask for a title or salary upgrade? Or, if you’re a manager, what’s the worst reason anyone has ever come to you for one? Share your comments with us here or on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

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