The harsh reality is that, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, but many of us were brought up believing that we should always wait until we’re asked. Perhaps that’s why lots of employees who believe they deserve a pay rise don’t actually ask for one, and, for those who eventually manage to bring themselves to do it, the mere thought is accompanied by stress and anxiety. It appears to be even more so for PAs and EAs: often overworked and loaded with responsibilities, many of them stay in exploited and underpaid positions even though they’re incredibly valuable and crucial to the success of their company. 

Why PAs & EAs fear asking for a pay rise

Can you really believe in yourself when others don’t? EAs and, especially, PAs are terribly misunderstood. Whilst the corporate world has slowly been waking up to the importance of assistants and the value that they can bring to a company, we still live in a society that mistakes them for secretaries. This is obviously an outdated view, as their role is no longer purely administrative: they also need to possess excellent organisation skills, deal with diary, travel and project management, act as a bridge between different layers of the organisation and multitask all the time. Still, because of the diminishing connotation of the widespread misperception of their titles, assistants are not motivated to acknowledge their worth, but to consider themselves in relation to the person they assist.

Furthermore, not everyone within the organisation understands exactly what their colleague’s assistant does and, even when a company cherishes their reliable EAs and PAs, their duties and day-to-day tasks can easily be overlooked. Because the very person that they work for isn’t always there to witness their achievements, they can also go unnoticed, along with their true worth and potential.

Another reason why PAs and EAs might give up on the idea of asking for a well-deserved pay rise is the fact that the job titles themselves don’t leave much room for career progression and it’s not even rare to find some of their salaries being capped.

When, why and how they should ask for one

Are you one of the PAs or EAs who are unsure about the adequacy of their salary? Then we recommend checking compensation surveys that take into account geographic adjustments and using tools like Glassdoor to understand whether your pay is within, above or below average.

Then consider the amount of responsibilities that you deal with and whether you’ve recently been assigned a lot more without recognition. Think of the time that you’re saving the company by freeing up the schedule of the CEOs or managers that you assist and try to break it down mathematically and financially. After all, time equals money, but your help goes beyond the amount of hours that you save them: they can use the time that they no longer need to spend on administrative and organisational duties for tasks and decisions that can make the company more money.

If, after meticulously analysing your situation, you now believe that you deserve a rise, start preparing yourself for “the big question”. For example, you could share your achievements with your executives on a regular basis, track your progress and highlight problems that you’ve solved, as well as your past accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to share the industry’s average salaries with your managers, too.

At C&C Search, we believe that PAs and EAs are truly indispensable to a company’s success: behind great CEOs are skilled, enthusiastic assistants and they should always be rewarded with gratitude as well as financially.