You’re the first to arrive and last to leave. You jump on opportunities to tackle special projects. Your boss smiles and nods at you in the hallway. Is now a good time to ask for a raise?

Not necessarily.

Over at The Muse, author Alyse Kalish argues that an employee’s best bet for requesting—and getting—a bump in pay is by first making sure you deserve one. That’s accomplished by performing a kind of self-audit or private performance review (you can use a worksheet The Muse created) that will help you assess your contributions and prepare an argument in the event your request is met with questions.

Before even asking for a meeting with your boss, take stock of whether you are able to articulate everything you’ve worked on that’s not in your job description. Have you helped co-workers with their own responsibilities? Have you taken the initiative on anything?

The sheet also lists some blunt questions that may force you to really be honest with yourself. (What makes you irreplaceable? Is there anything that would indicate you don’t deserve a raise?) The goal, according to Kalish, is to be prepared for the eventual one-on-one with a supervisor. Winging it may get you through a performance review, but it probably won’t offer compelling evidence of why you’ve earned more cash.

Even if you come prepared and make a persuasive case, there’s always a chance your boss will either turn it down or negotiate a lower percentage. That’s OK, too—the important thing is to ask. According to ABC, only 41 percent of workers request a raise, even though 84 percent of employers expect them to.

[h/t The Muse]