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Welcome to The Salary Chronicles, where we’re bringing transparency to negotiation and salaries, one story at a time. We ask women to share their experiences negotiating their salary and what their advice is for others doing the same. We share these stories anonymously so they feel comfortable speaking as openly and as freely as possible.

This week we’re speaking with a woman who worked diligently to establish herself within a company and earned 3 raises in less than 18 months.

Title: Executive Assistant

Location: New York

Original Salary: $55K

Negotiated Salary: $80K

What was the situation when you decided to negotiate your salary?

I started a new role at company where the hours were demanding and the turnover was high. Up to this point in my career, I had a bad attitude and I would often complain when I was asked to do additional work. That had worked previously, but in this demanding new role, I realized I had a choice: to either coast in this position and ultimately fail, or to lean into the challenge and try to establish myself within the company.

I chose the latter.

Eight months into my role, I was excelling. I received a $5K raise based on performance and I was asked to step in and help as the assistant to the CEO for a week. I knew this was my time to really step up and stand out in my career, and I didn’t take the responsibilities lightly. I worked 12 hour days and put my all into making sure I did the best job possible, while taking on two roles for that week.

When the CEO was looking for another assistant two months later, he told me that I was his first choice for the role and offered me the position with a $10K raise. I knew that the job would be challenging and my days would be long, but I also knew that this was my chance to create the career that I wanted. I took the position and made myself indispensable by taking on extra work and increased my profile by helping other department heads.

In just under a year my salary had increased from $55K to $70K, but my workload and the value I was bringing to the company had increased significantly as well.

After eight months in my new role I reached out to recruiters to see what the market value was for someone in my position and was surprised to learn that I was at the low end of the range, which was $70K-$90K. I was putting in a lot of work and knew I was bringing more to the company than I was being paid for. I decided it was time to ask for a raise.

How did you prepare for the conversation?

I had a lot of self-doubt when I was deciding if I should ask for more. I had already been given two raises in a short amount of time and I was worried about how I would be perceived. Would I look greedy asking for more so soon? To help make my decision I asked myself “what’s the worst that can happen?” I had saved enough and knew I could go elsewhere and earn more if the negotiation failed.

I prepared for the review by putting together a sheet of my accomplishments over the last eight months. I kept a little notebook in my desk where I would jot down reminders of all of my accomplishments. Using this list I was able to quickly write up everything significant I’d contributed during my time in this role. I planned to use this list of accomplishments to make sure there could be no question as to whether I deserved a raise.

How did the conversation go?

I started the conversation by sharing the write up of my contributions. I confidently walked him through the highlights, pointing out the extra projects I had helped with and the long hours I had worked. I let him know that I was committed to being a critical member of his team, but that my compensation wasn’t in line with the value of my work.

I then asked for a $10K raise, to $80K per year, putting me in the middle of the salary range, which I thought was appropriate based on the length of time I’d been there.

He told me that he appreciated my work, but would need to think about it, as I’d already been given two raises recently.

What was the end result?

He came back and told me that because I’d gone above and beyond in my role, he wanted to recognize my hard work and approved my raise.

What advice do you have for other women?

Go above and beyond to make yourself valuable. I developed a reputation for being one of the hardest working employees in the office. I demonstrated my value to the organization every single day. Because I had put in the work and made my contributions visible, when I asked for more they couldn’t say no.

Write down all of your accomplishments and contributions to the team. When asking for more, it’s up to you to make the strongest case possible for yourself. Having a list that is continuously updated will ensure that none of your hard work goes unrecognized.

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