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Before you go into your boss's office demanding more money, take the time to lay the groundwork for a successful conversation.
FORTUNE -- As you set career goals for 2012, a raise might be on your list. After all, the economy is slowly recovering, unemployment is ticking down and your employer is likely in a better financial position than in the last year or three.
But before you go into your boss's office demanding more money, take the time to lay the groundwork for a successful conversation. This means researching the typical compensation and salary path for your industry, company, and job position. Most important, understand exactly what results your boss expects of you, so you can demonstrate that you've exceeded them.
"The framework of the conversation shouldn't be, 'this is what I want; I want a raise,' it should be, 'I know what the company wants of me: x, y and z, and I've done it,' " says Peter Handal, chairman and chief executive officer of Dale Carnegie Training.
If you and your manager haven't already set specific performance goals that you can compare your work against, have a conversation to come up with goals for the coming year. Be explicit about the financial rewards associated with achieving those goals, whether it's a bonus for successful sales or a salary increase for a certain level of performance. Then, follow up at an agreed-upon time -- perhaps three months -- with a broader discussion about your career that includes the question of compensation.
See also: Will you get a raise in 2012?
"Don't wait until the salary raises are given to you. By the time it comes to you, it has gone through five or six levels of approval, and it's a done deal," says Zahir Ladhani, president of the compensation business at Kenexa, whose Salary.com...