Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Answering Reader Mail on Salary, Finding Great Talent

Hello New and Returning Readers,
I have a column at jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.  The latest 2 questions I answered over there are below.  Am continuing to work long hours at work...  Still trying to keep up with my blog and column to answer your great questions and comments!  Hope you are having a good week so far!
#1)  What should I pay a GREAT executive assistant? Live in AR, relatively large city and run a consulting group.

This graph should be pretty helpful. There are other sites that are also good to consult like glassdoors. I’m more curious how big your company is and how much revenue your company generates. This matters because it translates to how busy, stressful, how much experience you need them to have, and if you need a specialized Executive Assistant. Top EAs that work for a famous CEO (think Google, Fortune 100 companies) make as much as low level executives in middle management and have titles like Chief of Staff sometimes.

The most popular question on this column is about salary and this is the answer I wrote:

How much can the best executive assistants earn in a year?

The salary of an EA depends on what city you work in, how big your company is, and a zillion other factors that come into play just like any other job. The entertainment industry is mostly in Los Angeles, but pockets do exist elsewhere in the nation so you will see a fluctuation. Like any other field, the more experience you have under your belt the more you will get paid. It's not uncommon for an EA who has been in the industry forever and who works for someone very, very, very high profile to make a comfortable living - as if they themselves were a regular lower-ranking executive or part of management. Keep in mind, these types of executive assistants are very, very few and far between. Will you get paid mid-six figures as an EA - no. Is the job sometimes well-paying enough that it attracts those who don't want to climb the corporate ladder while reaping some of the benefits as if they were - yes. All in all, there's a part of you that has to want this job bad enough and love it enough to excel in it. Otherwise, sometimes the job can be a little challenging that most people only pursue it to pay their dues or be a writer on the side. It is never their life goal to grow up to be an executive assistant. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

#2) What qualifications / skills should I require on a job description for a GREAT executive assistant for my small food consulting company?

Sorry I have been behind in answering questions. I do realize you also asked another question, which I haven’t forgotten.

I think this is a great question, so I hope my answer is helpful to you. I have never worked at a food consulting company, per se, but I did waitress for a couple of years, I am a foodie, I work with food vendors a lot, and I strongly believe in customer service being vital in ANY role regardless of job title or company. I’ll answer you question in severals ways just to be thorough. So here are 3 tips:

1) List qualifications, skills, value, principles, a list of daily tasks, and other related info.

Paint a great picture of your ideal EA and your company’s mission statement using your personality and core values.
Keep in mind,if you want the assistant to stay forever or not get promoted, write CAREER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT. Or if you want to promote them mention, the right assistant will be promoted after 2-3 years. Some useful key words you can use are: great problem solver, able to think a few steps ahead, attention to detail and ability to see the bigger picture, multitasker, great with logistics, smart, proactive, personable, friendly, empathetic, sympathetic, foodie, appreciates good food, collaborate, partnership, manage, point person, workflow, and knowledge of x, y, z software programs, gatekeeper, face of our company, first and last point of contact, whatever it takes attitude, green, hungry, great listener, customer service oriented, etc… Then write a list specific list of daily, weekly tasks, or a % breakdown of what the role entails. It can be 50% daily calendar management, travel, phones, and coordinating client meetings, 25% expense reports, accounting, and misc special projects, 15% vendor and client management, 10% personal executive assistant duties such as picking up lunch, tasting samples, etc. To get you started...

Small Food Consulting Company is looking for a stellar Executive Assistant to join our team! If you love food, partnering with clients and executives, and being “the face” of our company, please continue reading. We are seeking an Executive Assistant with X - X years of experience. We also want someone who is __________, _________, and __________.

2) Personal referrals are good bet.

When people get an interview through someone they have a connection with, the sense of obligation, to be really hard working, and to do well is much more heightened because they don’t want to let anyone down or look bad. Even though you don’t know them directly or too well, some close degree of separation is better than no connection. This is not to say a total stranger can’t be good, but most AMAZING employees already have jobs and have no shortages of headhunters trying to recruit them away. So, to find a great EA, find someone young, new to the industry, or looking to switch fields - they will be greener, hungrier, and hopefully more passionate than anyone just looking for any job.

3) I answered a similar question on my blog and wrote 10 TIPS so please look at this answer too! It is much more in depth and helpful.


***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post?  You can just write “Thx!” or something!  :) 

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 5-6 days to answer.

I also write over at Jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.



  1. Interesting read. Question for all the EAs out there: Is this salary comprehensive? I make a salary, but a lot of my $ comes from commission...

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec AsstJanuary 6, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Most often at the salary sites when a dollar amount is listed is does not include other benefits that translate to dollars (401k matching, FSA) and is soley the salary/paycheck. Whether that salary is hourly based/with OT is, I would assume, included. I have never heard of an EA getting a commission, but that sounds great. I do know of EAs who work so much OT that the OT is actually more than their base salary, which means they are working 60-100 weeks, etc. Anytime one negotiates, it's probably best to get the proper breakdown of salary, OT, commission for total dollar value and then speak about other non monetary benefits for a clearer picture of the total compensation and benefits package.