You’ve been working hard lately, and your work has been exceptional. You know something? You deserve a raise. But how do you get one? As Padma Ganeshan-Singh writes in a terrific PayScale article called “7 Tips to Help You Get That Raise,” seeking out the pay bump you deserve means doing some homework, making a case, and having a contingency plan. Read on to see what she suggests.

1. Get the Facts — Using sites like PayScale’s Research Center, you can see what other companies (of similar size and location) are paying people with your job title and level of experience. This is crucial, since you don’t want to ask for more than the industry warrants.

2. Get a Sense of the Company’s Pay Philosophy — By talking to HR or doing some research, you can find out whether your company wants to be in the 50th or 100th percentile. This information could be useful when it comes to making your case.

3. Pay Attention to Timing — Don’t schedule that meeting with your boss right after a round of layoffs, or after you’ve messed up on a major project. You want to wait until you’ve just proved yourself with some major accomplishment, and it’s fresh in everyone’s minds what a great employee you are. Also, you should be aware of when your company gives raises. “There’s little your manager can do if you broach your request too early or too late in the compensation cycle,” Ganeshan-Singh writes.

4. Make an Objective Case — The key here is to make a straightforward accounting of your achievements and value to the company. Don’t begin with accusations about how the company isn’t paying you enough.

5. Leave the Personal Stuff at Home — While the fact that you just had a baby or bought a house certainly increases your need for more money, it doesn’t make the company obligated to give it to you. This kind of personal stuff has no bearing; leave it out of the meeting.

6. Let the Boss Pick the Number — While you should have a sense of what number you’re looking for, let the manager make the first move and propose the amount. They might overshoot you. If not, let the negotiations begin.

7. Form a Backup Plan — If they can’t give you the raise you’re looking for, will you stick around or start looking for something new? One thing Ganeshan-Singh advises against is threatening to quit. It’s too risky.