Do the Prep. Get the Raise!

In this day and age asking for a raise requires serious preparation and a plan. You usually only get 2 shots at it per year when budgets are being discussed and hammered out. Simply asking for more money or whining about the increasing cost of living will be met with an eyeroll and you'll have very little chance of pleading your case. Getting emotional or heated during this exchange will almost certainly assure that you won't get a red cent more than what was allocated to everyone in the building. Preparation and an entrepreneurial mindset are key in these negotiations.

Assistants are a different breed. We handle more rudimentary tasks each day than any other business function. We are often lumped into the same compensation pool as everyone else when we actually go above and beyond everyone else's singularly-focused jobs. Our jobs are multi-faceted and require contact with almost everyone inside as well as outside the organization. As such, it's important that we make this obvious and fight for bonuses or raises that are outside of what is prescribed by the company. So let's dive in to a pretty successful method of getting the raise you want and deserve.

1. Get Prepared

My preparation always starts with research. Research what the market is paying in your area for EAs at your level and one step above. Additionally, if you support more than one C-level you should tack on about $10K/yr to your salary requirements. Don't fall for the bullshit line "Oh, he's super self-sufficient so you'll hardly ever get any work from him," as a way to justify them not paying you more. We know how this goes. Once you show how much of a badass you are as an EA, Mr. or Ms. self-sufficient will quickly become Mr. or Ms. High Touch and start loading you up with tasks. If you didn't get your money out the gate, you won't see it for another year. AND you'll still be behind in compensation a full two years because you didn't get it up front.

Once you find out what the market is paying, also find out what market rate is for the "other jobs" you do like receptionist, HR lead, office manager, janitor, etc. Figure out what percentage of those other jobs you do each day and add that to your chart. (e.g., HR Lead market rate is $80K/yr. / 2080 = $39/hr. If you spend at least 2 hours a day dealing with new hire paperwork = $78/day x 5 days per week = $390/wk = $1,560/mo = $18,720/yr) Do this for each additional business function you handle outside of the role for which you were hired and come up with a number. That number is how much you've saved the company by handling those responsibilities.

2. Create a presentation.

Yes, you read that right. To be taken seriously, create a presentation that you will present to your supervisor during your annual review/performance assessment. This presentation is actually in two parts: a pre-read sent the evening before the meeting and a printed presentation that you will present in a closed-door session the following day at the end of the workday.

Part one: The Pre-read.

This is an overview of everything you've done for the year. It should include a quick review of all that you accomplished, items from your "brag sheet" as well as a quick narrative of the challenges you've faced as well as what projects you would like to take on as part of your continued professional development. This information will allow your executive to plead your case to the Board or Finance team to justify the expense of a comp adjustment and "pre-pay" for the extra responsibility you'll be taking on based on the information in your presentation.

I also like to include the job description I was given when I joined the company as well as a copy of my updated resume so that your exec can re-familiarize with from whence you came and the skills and training you have (that they conveniently forget about). I even took a Meyers-Briggs test and included those results in my pre-read to help give my exec an understanding of who I am as a person, what environment makes me successful, and to potentially identify any personality/motivation/ethos issues that were looming without resolution.

If your exec does not read the pre-read ahead of your meeting, postpone the meeting until they make the time to do so. This is a respect thing. If they don't respect your process enough to read the damned pre-read, then they don't respect you as a professional and expert in the administrative field. Start looking for a new job IMMEDIATELY.

Part Two: The Presentation

This presentation should include the following information:

1. Market info. What market is paying for your role as well as the portions of all of the other roles you actually do. Add up all of those numbers and place it on a spreadsheet next to your current salary. Subtract both and that's the amount of money you've saved the company and the frightening disparity between what you're being paid and what you actually deserve.

2. The exact amount you're asking for. Once you've done your research put the exact amount your looking for in your presentation. Do NOT leave this to chance. The whole purpose of this presentation is to justify the amount you're asking for. If you leave that blank then you're essentially getting caught with your pants down. Be specific!

Part Three: The Meeting

I always say, "Snatch that hair back into a tight bun, put on your best business suit and prepare to go to battle." Our execs negotiate every day. They get tons of practice. We don't. So it's important that our preparation is on point so that we feel super confident walking into the room. The outfit only reinforces the fact that we mean business.

Keep in mind this isn't personal. This is BUSINESS. And if you treat yourself like the CEO of then it will be much easier to stay tactical and not get emotional should the negotiations take a different course than you'd anticipated. The goal is to make sure that you walk through the presentation, justify the money you're asking for, and if they balk have them explain EXACTLY how a raise of $5 to $10/hr isn't justified given all that you do and all of the money you save the company outlined in the presentation before them. If they still balk you'll know that it's time to start looking. However, most will be impressed by the effort expended to plead your case and will likely give you what you're asking for or some combination of additional vacation or bonus or something to make up the difference if the money isn't there. Take that as a win.

Use this method during your next annual/performace review and I assure you you will make quite an impression and garner a whole new level of respect as a serious, committed, business professional. Show that you mean business. Plead your case with facts and figures. And be surprised that you'll actually get what you're asking for.

Phoenix Normand