MONEY: JUST REWARDS

Santa's not the only one with a naughty-and-nice list. Your boss, too, decides who gets a gift (a raise or promotion) and who gets a lump of coal (nada). Assuming you've worked hard all year, how else can you boost your chances of getting more than just a pat on the back? "If you really want a raise, ask strategically," says Robin Ryan, a Seattle-based career coach and author of "What to Do With the Rest of Your Life." First, compile a list of the new skills you've learned and the important contributions you've made to the company in the past year. Never ask based on personal reasons, like "I just bought a house." That strategy will actually hurt you, says Ryan. Don't set your goals too high--the typical raise this year will be in the 3 to 4 percent range, reports HR consulting firm Towers Perrin. And don't panic if the answer is no--half of all people who request a raise get turned down. Just ask your boss, "What can I do to earn a raise in this position next year?" And make sure to follow through on the response.

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