By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One the most stressful workplace moments is going to meet with the boss and asking for a raise.

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In 2013, several surveys put the average pay raise at around 3 percent.

And according to PayScale, the average woman hits a salary plateau at age 38, and the average man hits that plateau at age 45.

So what’s the best time to ask for a pay raise?

“The best strategy is preparation,” said Marni Hockenberg, the principal at Hockenberg Search, a recruiting and coaching firm in Minnetonka.

“You should always be thinking: What can I do for the company to make it better, to make it grow?’” she said.

When it comes to a raise, you should be constantly preparing to show proof of your performance.

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“Employers want to know what have you done for them,” Hockenberg said. “How have you increased revenue? How have you decreased operating costs? Did you bring in a new customer? Did you retain a customer?”

“Everything is about how you’re benefiting the corporation, it’s all about you, it’s never about them. You would never say ‘I’m really strapped. I really need a raise,’” said Nancy Branton, a career coach at Career Life Potential.

Paul DeBettignies, a recruiter with HireCast Consulting, suggests the following strategy:

“Always be maintaining a brag book on your accomplishments and successes, document how you have increased sales, cut costs, made something more efficient, and pay attention to productivity versus peers/colleagues.”

This is all before you ask for a raise. And Hockenberg suggests you take one more step before setting up a meeting to ask for one — set up a meeting to ask for something else.

“What do I need to do to get a raise? And find out what those expectations are that are going take you above and beyond your current job description,” she said.

Then think about timing. DeBettingnies suggests asking during the annual review time, at the end of a successful project or when word is out that others are getting them.

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“You want to take the emotions and put them on the shelf, and not take it as a personal conversation, it’s a business conversation,” Hockenberg said.

Jason DeRusha