I am relatively new to my small (25-person) company. I've been here almost 3 months, and my title is Executive Assistant to the President. I have 7 years of experience, have always gotten excellent evaluations, and recently left a significantly higher-paying job to work here so that I could be closer to home. I love my new team, although my boss (the president and founder) can't seem to let go of any control, and so try as I might, I often don't have much to do. I am the first assistant he's had in his 30 years as an extremely successful real estate developer.
I recently found out that my company is thinking of hiring an assistant to another VP here, and is willing to pay that new person exactly what I'm making ($60,000). I understand the new job description, and am absolutely confident that I can do the new job, and still support the president. (To be honest, the other assistants here aren't working to capacity either, and my company has a history of hiring full-time assistants when those roles don't really warrant a full-time employee.) Doing both of these jobs will not be a stretch, time-wise.
I have approached my boss (the president), and he and the other VP are happy to allow me to take on the new assistant role, and keep my old role. We haven't discussed a start date or salary yet.
Here's my question: While I am not getting a "promotion," I will be doing significantly more work than I have been. I am saving the company from paying a whole new salary and benefits package, and they will not have to spend the time to train a new person. How much of a raise can I reasonably expect to ask for? The VPs at my company all make well over $200,000 annually, not including incredible bonuses that generally equal their base salaries; $60,000 is a drop in the bucket to them. Of course, I don't expect to make anywhere near that amount, but is a third too much to ask for? A fifth? A sixth? What's a reasonable starting point? Any advice or guidance you can give will be appreciated.
by Marc Effron, VP, Talent Management, Avon Products
Hi Susannah – You may have a good chance at squeezing some extra cash from your employer, but you first need to fundamentally change how you justify a higher salary. Salaries are set by the market for similar jobs – not by what others in your company earn. After all, if you worked at a non-profit where the executives made $60,000 a year, would you say that a third of that amount was fair for you? Even if your VPs make seven-figure salaries, the fair wage for an executive assistant is equal to what other executive assistants in your city make, plus or minus about 20%.
The good news is that you have a legitimate money-saving proposal to make to the company. If you frame your discussion that way, your chances for more green increase. Speak with the hiring manager and offer to do both jobs if they increase the salary to compensate for the additional work. Your request for a larger salary should be based on your filling a larger role, nothing else. I’d suggest you ask for $75,000 and hope for $70,000.
There are a few things to consider however, before you do this:
1. You’ll be disclosing that these two jobs can be done by one person, maybe one $60,000 person. You might end up doing both jobs with no increase.
2. The President may enjoy having his own assistant, whether he chooses to use you extensively or not. He may not look kindly on your offering to support someone else. I knew an executive who referred to his bored assistant as a “fireman.” Her job was to wait quietly until she was needed.
3. The President might start using you more after you start supporting the other VP. If he’s never had an assistant before, he might discover the joys of delegating. Then you’re stuck doing two jobs for not much more money.
I hope that helps and good luck!
Marc Effron is Vice President, Talent Management for Avon Products. He has authored two books (including Leading the Way and numerous articles about leadership. He is a frequent speaker at industry events.