An Admin’s Guide to Asking for a Raise

I recently attended the Executive Leadership Support Forum in Washington, D.C. and had the pleasure of meeting brilliant executive assistants from across the country. Many individuals that I met, I had the good fortune of staying in touch with while my co-founder and I built Cabinet over the summer. Our conversations about the future of the administrative profession were fundamental to the pilot we recently released.

That is why I was shocked and saddened by the average salary of the attendees. At one point during the conference, the organizers ran an anonymous poll and the results are summarized below. How could people so resourceful, so dependable and so instrumental to company productivity and culture, be paid well below their colleagues?

Now, of course, some people made great salaries (looking at you $106 +). If you are one of those executive assistants or admins, congratulations on getting paid what you deserve. If you are not, and often feel underappreciated by your salary, continue reading for some practical advice.

Salary Chart

Fast forward a few months and I attended a seminar hosted by Ladies Get Paid on how to ask for more money. I immediately thought of how helpful these tips would be for administrative professionals (Male or Female!) and have decided to share them in this post.

Step 1. Get in the Right State of Mind

Ask yourself: Why do I want to make more money? Determine all the reasons why and write them down. Maybe you want to buy a new house, plan for a family, or go on an awesome vacation.

Step 2. Understand your Market Value

Prepare for making the ask by gathering data to support your willingness-to-accept range. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to seek input on salaries. A few online resources include Glassdoor, Payscale and Fairy Godboss.

If you have a network of admins, like other admins on Cabinet, you can ask them to share privately with you what they are making.

Share the data you discovered in the negotiation. “I talked to …. ” or “this is the number on Payscale … “.

Now that you know a range of what people are making, decide where you fit based on your location, company size and years of experience – and then go higher. Ladies Get Paid’s advice is to pick a number that is high, but not too high that you can’t say it with a straight face. Somewhere below that number is likely where you will end up, but you never know. It is better to shoot high with your first offer.

On the other hand, make sure you also set a number that you are not willing to go below. That is called your “walk-away point”.

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Step 3. Discuss Your Wins

Begin your salary negotiations by discussing your wins. Share all of the projects you successfully managed, trips you booked without hiccups, meetings you organized quickly and effectively and more. If you have emails from people saying thank you, congratulating you, or providing otherwise great feedback, file those notes and bring them out in your salary negotiation.

Step 4. Calm Your Nerves

Remind yourself that you are valuable. Wear your favorite dress, order the fancy latte, meditate for 10 minutes, workout. Whatever it is you do to make yourself feel powerful, do it in preparation for making the ask. And remember – you are willing to walk away at some point.

Step 5. Make the Ask

Ask for the raise or salary increase in person. If that is not possible, do it over the phone. Never do it over email.

Studies show that people who give the first number in a negotiation have a slightly higher chance of maximizing their value in a deal. Say the highest number you can say while sill making a straight face.

Then, be silent.

Wait and see what number your employer or potential employer counters back to you. Or else, wait for them to accept your first number!

Remember that negotiations are never only about one thing. In salary negotiations, it is important to consider other negotiable matters that are important to you. Full Compensation is a term coined to describe all of the other considerations in salary negotiations such as, flexibility, start dates, health benefits, career development opportunities, stock options and more. Understand where you would negotiate down in salary for comparable increases in these other considerations.

Now go out there and get the compensation you deserve!!

 

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