Are You Underpaid or Over-Selling Yourself?

At C-Suite Assistants, we take a personalized approach to our relationships with our clients and our candidates.  As the Marketing Associate here, it’s my job to learn what makes our people tick.  I speak candidly with both clients and candidates to better understand their goals, their expectations, and what motivates them.

Not surprisingly, many of my conversations with both candidates and clients are about money. Money, Money, Money.

I’m not implying that this is bad practice; at the end of the day, we’ve all got bills to pay.  What I do find interesting, however, is the incongruence among the two forces in their opinions about the monetary worth of the role.

Average salaries for Receptionists, Administrative Assistants, and Executive Assistants in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York as compared to the national average. 

For example: we recently coached a client on their compensation benchmark for an open position.  The position, a senior-level executive assistant working hand-in-hand with the CEO, entailed about 80% local travel, supervision of other administrative staff, and smartphone accessibility 24/7 in addition to personal work.  The company originally wanted to pay in the $40-50,000 range, which in our opinion was way below market price point for this level of support.  After conversations and analysis, they increased the range from $85-100,000 and made a successful hire. 

At the lower range for that type of position, a company can waste a lot of time interviewing, and/or settle for someone who doesn’t have the technical skills or experience necessary to do the work to be successful in that role. Often this leads to an unsuccessful hire and having to start the process all over again.

Here’s another example: we recently screened a candidate who had been downsized from her position at a financial company in New York where she worked for the last eight years as an Executive Assistant, supporting several Managing Directors.  She worked 9:00AM to 5:00PM, earning a base of $90,000 and a bonus of $30-40,000 per year, making her total compensation six figures.  When we asked her what she was looking for in her next role, she wanted and expected the same arrangement, including compensation and hours, and was not flexible in her requirements.

The 9-5 grind, as many call it, has become more of an 8-6 grind in this day and age.  It’s a rare commodity to find 9:00Am to 5:00PM hours, and if found, these hours are considered to be part of your perks.  An executive assistant at this compensation level is expected to work overtime.

It is important to know your appropriate salary range, whether you are an employee or candidate.  As an employer, salary benchmarking ensures attracting candidates with the right skills at a competitive rate.  From a candidate’s perspective, knowing your worth allows you to better market yourself in the job market while keeping expectations realistic.

We compiled data detailing the average salaries for receptionists, administrative assistants, and executive assistants for New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, as well as the national average for each.

Following are duties, skills and the experience level typically expected for receptionists, administrative assistants and executive assistants.

Receptionist Duties:

 

Years of Experience: Any

Expected Hours:  Typically 8:00AM-6:00PM or 9:00AM-5:00PM

Special Skills:  Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word

Support Function: Basic call and guest screenings for an entire floor, department or company

Typical Duties:

  • Greet guests and provide refreshments
  • Answer and route calls
  • Maintain appearance of the reception area
  • Coordinate weekly flower deliveries
  • Stand in for other administrative duties when required

 

Administrative Assistant Duties:

 

Years of Experience: 2 or more

Expected Hours: 9:00AM to 6:00PM with occasional overtime, no weekends

Special Skills: Proficient in all Microsoft Office applications, able to troubleshoot minor technology issues independently

Support Function: Generally works as part of a team of administrators, and reports to a higher level administrator, or a lower-level executive and his/her team, such as a Head of a Department or a Managing Director

Typical Duties:

  • Phone screening and routing
  • Basic calendar maintenance and scheduling
  • Basic correspondence
  • Records maintenance, such as filing
  • Data reconciliation, such as compiling expense reports
  • Some travel arrangements
  • Some project work

 

Executive Assistant Duties:

 

Years of Experience: 5 or more to support leaders up to Vice Presidents, at least 7 years to support the C-Suite executives or higher

Expected Hours: 8:00AM to 6:00PM with required 24/7 smartphone accessibility and flexibility to work weekends/holidays

Special Skills: Expert in all Microsoft Office applications, proficient in Adobe Photoshop, QuickBooks or similar, some CRM experience, advanced working knowledge of technology and applications, intuitive problem-solving nature, able to troubleshoot minor technology issues independently. Project management experience.

Support Function: Serve as support to one to five upper level Directors or Vice Presidents, or one C-Suite executive

Typical Duties:

  • Phone screening and routing
  • Complex calendar maintenance and scheduling, both business and personal
  • Complex travel arrangements, including private jet and visa arrangements when applicable
  • Ghost writing correspondences
  • Attends meetings with executive, taking meticulous notes.  Occasionally attends meetings in place of the executive
  • Personal work duties, such as family vacations, doctor’s appointments or help with college applications

As is with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule.  Do you do less, as much, or more work that the duties we’ve listed?  What are some other duties and expectations required of you at your job?  Let us know in the comments section below.

(Previously, we posted an article about compensation and why you should consider the big picture when accepting or rejecting a job opportunity.)