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Do some research before asking for a raise

Q. I am very underpaid. I have been here almost two years and have had one raise. I work hard — harder than the guy I work for. I have taken on more responsibility. It’s time for a bigger raise. Do I talk to my manager or HR? What do they really need to know?

A. Most raises are granted by your manager and are offered annually after a performance review, or after a significant increase in responsibility. You seem very sure about the state of your compensation, but before you meet with your manager or human resources, you need to do some research.

Review your job description to see if it is accurate. Research the compensation of similar roles on the website of the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development by reviewing data on average wages by occupation.

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You can also go to job sites to check the salary ranges of advertised jobs similar to yours. Don’t forget to add the value of benefits like health insurance, company contributions to 401 (k)’s, and vacation time. (They can add as much as 25 percent to your compensation.) Having this data will make any conversation you have with your manager or HR more productive.

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If you are ready to talk to your manager, be wary of delivering a message that you work harder than he does. Your goal is to help him understand the value of what you bring to the organization.

Companies pay for results, so what your manager and HR really need to know is the impact you have on the company and its success. By talking with your manager about your role and adequacy of your compensation, you will get the opportunity learn whether he shares your opinion about your value to the company. If your manager doesn’t agree with your view of your capabilities and contributions, that will be the beginning of a very different conversation.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.