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How to Get a Raise: 10 tips for making what you’re worth

January 1, 2006

Now may be the best time to approach your board of directors or boss for that big raise. Although an annual 3 to 5 percent raise is the average in the U.S., real estate has had an exceptionally good run, driving up memberships and increasing demand for association services and products. Here are 10 tips for getting the raise you deserve:

Assess your market value.
Conduct salary research to learn where you fall on the pay scale. Check salary.com, the U.S. Department of Labor (bls.gov), and the American Society of Association Executives (asaenet.org). Then go for the max. A general rule is to ask for more than you think you’re worth, allowing your employer to leave the table feeling like a winner.

Counter all arguments.
Make a list of possible objections, then counter them in writing. Rehearse these and other negotiating points and tactics from your written script, so that in the meeting, your verbal responses will flow easily and will reflect careful and considered thought. Nothing succeeds more than clarity of message delivered with total confidence.

Time it right.
Stick to your association’s review schedule, budget cycles, or other fiscal factors, or use a big achievement as a springboard to ask for a raise. Also, if your association has just posted big profits your board may be more receptive to your request.

Set the scene.
Find a time and place where you will have your supervisor’s undivided attention. Arrive promptly and attired a bit more formally than on a normal business day. Use good eye contact, a sure and pleasant voice, and an enthusiastic smile, as well as an opening handshake if it feels appropriate.

Be popular.
Build strong relationships within your organization, creating the perception of you as a “team player” and enhancing your network. You are more likely to get a raise if you are well liked and connected to other key players.

Promote yourself in writing.
Keep notes throughout the year to accurately document your achievements. Keep letters of commendation, performance evaluation quotes, certificates, awards, news clippings, and any other citations that bolster and quantify your contributions to the association. Then create a self-evaluation report that includes a general assessment of your strengths.

Show them the money.
Do you constantly look for ways to save the association money? If you can link your achievements to increases in revenue, you’ll strengthen your hand considerably.

Offer alternative compensation.
Consider other items you can negotiate for if a raise seems unlikely, such as an extra vacation week, personal days, or education benefits.

Know your board or boss.
Some bosses value loyalty, some only look at the bottom line, and others measure your success by how well you get along with them or the membership. Emphasize your accomplishments in their target area.

Try a multi-stage negotiation.
Don’t accept a raise you don’t want and don’t be afraid to tell your boss, “I’ll think it over.” In that case, make a plan for the next step in communication before you leave the room.