Personal Assistant Tips: Negotiating Your Contract
By far, the trickiest part of the process is negotiating your contract. It is almost impossible to give completely solid advice on this subject because the dynamics are complex and specific to each and every situation.
Regardless of what you may have heard or read, the salary range for personal assistants is very broad. It can be as low as $10 an hour and up to $150,000 a year. I’ve even known people to make $250,000 a year.
The trick for the applicant is not to underbid or overbid. If you say you’ll work for 60K but they would have paid you 80K, you just lost a lot of money. Conversely, you may say 90K and they only want to pay you 75K. So how do you handle this situation?
Many employers want to know how much you made at your last job, as if that is truly an accurate gage of how much you’re worth. It is anything but. Because celebs pay the least, contrary to popular belief, you may not have made that much at your first part-time assistant job with an actor. This is what I have done on more than one occasion and have had great success:
Interviewer: “How much did you make at your last job?”
Me: “Sir, I’m so glad that you’ve decided to move forward with this process. I’m flattered that you have that kind of faith in me” (notice I avoid answering the question directly).
“I’d be delighted to discuss a compensation package with you. As you can imagine, sir, there are a number of things that are confidential regarding my last job. My salary is one of them.”
“I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that I will also honor my confidentiality contract with you if I am hired.”
“I am considering a number of jobs right now, and I still have one more interview tomorrow” (even if this is not true you are creating demand and urgency for them to hire you right away).
“If you would like to submit an offer letter to me, I can then make a decision based on all of my choices. As you can imagine, money is not the only deciding factor.”
With this strategy, you aren’t being confrontational and you’re putting the professional pressure on them to make a decision fast, as well as pay you the maximum. If they continue to press you for your salary history or want you to answer any questions about how much you’ll work for, then simply turn the tables like this:
Interviewer: “I appreciate the fact that you’ll keep things confidential and honor your non-disclosure agreement, but I still need to know how much you want to get paid.”
Me: “Well, sir, that is certainly a tricky question. It isn’t possible at this stage for me to tell you because we haven’t discussed all of the job functions yet. Do you have a job description you can give me?”
Interviewer: “No, I don’t” (they rarely do).
Me: “I need some more specifics. I’m sure you’ll agree my pay should be based on a several of factors including but not limited to: number of hours, level of responsibility, and whether or not I will be traveling and/or on call 24/7 “(Now hit him with this…)
“What is the salary range is for this position?” (He won’t answer)
Interviewer: “It depends on experience.”
Me: “Well, sir, you’re holding my résumé, so you know what my experience is. How much does this position pay based on the experience printed on my résumé?”
At this point, it’s done! He or she will have to answer you. I have never had an interviewer push it past that point. If they do want to play games with you there is nothing you can do about it. Hold your ground. Ask again for the job offer letter.
There is a saying in sales: “He who talks first is the one that loses.” Once you ask them for the offer letter again, just sit there and smile. Don’t say a word. If both of you sit there for 5 minutes without saying anything, fine. Most candidates start to panic at this point and think that if they don’t say something fast they will lose the job. It’s not true. If anything, it’s the opposite. Maintaining your composure and firm stance shows you have nerves of steel and that you are a true business professional.
By the way, as far as I know, I have always received the maximum salary at every job I’ve ever worked (including my dishwasher job at 15-years-old).
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