Q. My boss called me in and told me I was getting a raise. At first, I was excited, but the more I think about it, it's really not as much as I was hoping for. It seems like it would just barely cover the increased price of gas to get me to work each day. What can I do?

A. Communication is always the key. Ideally, that communication happens before a decision is made since it can be very challenging for your supervisor to go back to the people they report to and ask for more. However, that can be difficult when the good news of a raise is sprung on you like this.

It rarely hurts you to ask for more. Some employers would even see assertiveness as a desirable trait, and just by asking you may find you can get some or all of what you want. If your supervisor seems intractable though, and if you're planning to stay with the organization for a while, then you may need to look at this as an opportunity to open up a dialog about the future. Lay out for your supervisor what you'd like to be earning and then ask for their help in crafting a plan that would get you to that point over the coming year. Then make a note to remind your supervisor about what you discussed before they get your next raise approved.