Five Tips to Help Admins Negotiate a Better Salary in a Bad Economy
Even though you know you deserve it, you may feel like this year, with layoffs and cutbacks abounding, isn’t the best time to negotiate for better compensation. But look at it this way: Bad economic times make efficiency, productivity and effectiveness more valuable than ever. If you can prove your worth to the company, it’s very possible you’ll be rewarded for it. Follow these five tips for best results.
Document Your Contributions
Admins may not have direct bottom-line impact, but the people they work for do. “Talk about how productive the people you supported were because of your efforts and what they then contributed to the bottom line,” explains Caroline Ceniza-Levine, cofounder of New York-based SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals. “Talk about how efficient you are and what that means for time -- and therefore dollars -- saved.”
For example, if you support three sales managers who generated $X in sales revenue, note all the calls, research and other support functions you provided that helped them do that. Then collect testimonials. “If there is a special project you worked on, ask the beneficiary to send an email to your boss and CC you so you have a copy,” Levine advises. “Keep these testimonials and use them as evidence of your value.”
Research the Market
Knowing the market rate for admins who work at similarly sized companies and with similar skills, experience and responsibilities to yours also is important in a negotiation.
You can find information on the Web from Monster’s Salary Wizard, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook or your state’s employment commission. “All this helps to frame the discussion around helping your employer find the best employee for the dollar,” says Robert Holton, director of sales -- professional services for Milwaukee-based SourcePoint Staffing.
And feel free to ask around. “A person can’t be afraid to have discussions with friends, family and coworkers about what a person might expect to make for a given role,” Holton says.
“The most common mistake -- and the one that will do you in every time -- is a failure to plan for both the facts and the feelings,” says Carol Frohlinger, author of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success.
Avoid that by being clear about what you want and prepared to justify it. “Consider the pushback you may get, and be ready to deal with it in a professional way,” Frohlinger says. In other words, think about potential questions or excuses you might face, and come up with reasonable, fact-based answers. Then practice the conversation with a friend.
“Given the current economy, it may be inappropriate to ask for a raise if your company has just had budget cuts or layoffs,” cautions Brandi Britton, regional vice president of OfficeTeam. “Even if you feel you deserve a raise, bringing up the issue in such a climate may make you appear out of touch.”
Cash is king, but compensation also includes vacation time, flexible work hours or subsidized education/training. So if a raise isn’t practical, ask for these perks instead.
If you are negotiating a raise, request a salary review in six months, with a guaranteed bump in pay if you’ve met certain expectations, Britton says. “By beginning to build a case for increased compensation, you’ll be prepared to present a compelling argument when your company is on firmer financial ground,” she explains.
Anticipate the Worst
If your best efforts at negotiating fail, accept defeat gracefully. “It's tight times in the real world, and payroll control is one area that every company is addressing,” says Alan Guinn, managing director and CEO of The Guinn Consultancy Group in Memphis. “Recognize that you are important for the role you play, but not so important that you couldn't be replaced should you come across as arrogant or demanding.”