To land your job, your rocked your resume, sliding right past the pesky screening software so many companies are adopting, and you successfully answered all your new employer’s toughest interview questions. Maybe you weren’t able to swing that salary boost you were hoping for during your post-offer negotiations, but you still have lots to be proud of… and some prep to do. The next prime opportunity to discuss your salary is during the annual employee review. We can’t promise this conversation will be any less daunting than the last, but with the advice of these five seasoned business professionals, you’ll at least better know what to do and say.

A woman stands confidently over her desk

1. Do your research. Alexandra Dickinson, member strategy lead at SoFi, a personal finance company, emphasizes how important it is to know your worth — or at least what your work is worth. Before your review, you should not only poke around online but actually speak with other individuals in the industry about their pay: “Ideally, you should speak to three men and three women (to help correct against the gender pay gap) who would know how much someone with your skillset and role makes.” This way, before your employer comes back with, “That’s the industry standard,” you’ll be able to say otherwise.

2. Compile your contributions. Take the time to understand your tangible value to the company. According to Dana Theus, a career coach and the CEO of InPower Coaching, “Many times your boss isn’t doing the calculations to think about what you contribute to the bottom line, so you have to do it for them.” And take that “tangible” concept as literally as possible: In the months leading up to your review, compile a file full of completed projects, successful initiatives, and anything else that shows high performance. Even if you have a job in which your accomplishments are tricky to quantify, you’re surely contributing the culture and bottom line of the company (or you wouldn’t be there).

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3. Practice your pitch out loud. It should come as no surprise that asking for a salary increase isn’t the time to stumble over your words. Brie Reynolds, a senior career specialist at job-search site FlexJobs, confirms that confidence is absolutely crucial during this conversation. “Practicing ahead of time will help you calm your nerves and build confidence,” she says. The good news is that a grandiose monologue is not required. A simple “I would like a raise of this much money for these reasons” should suffice.

4. Get it in writing. Best-case scenario: Your employer agrees to that optimistic number you were negotiating. Worst-case scenario: They verbally agree to it… but then never act on the promise. This is why Stuart Ridge, the chief marketing officer for VitaMedica, a natural health website, encourages securing the raise in writing before leaving a review. “Promises of a raise might feel good,” Ridge cautions, “but they don’t mean anything until it is official.” So, go on and DTR (define the raise).

5. Negotiate some more. Sarah Sheehan, the co-founder of Bravely, which helps employees prep for important conversations with their managers, gets the appeal of a direct pay raise. But when that’s not possible, she suggests considering other aspects of your employment and compensation. “Negotiation doesn’t always need to be about cash,” she explains. “Maybe you end up negotiating an extra week of vacation or the flexibility to work from home once a week. Think outside of the box about what you need to feel happy in your role.” And trust us; there are tons of non-salary benefits to explore.

Tweet us how have you’ve aced an annual review @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)