“Hard work and results should be recognized by others, but when they aren’t, advocating for oneself becomes necessary. As discussed earlier, this must be done with great care. But it must be done.” ~ Sheryl Sandberg
In a recent conversation with an elderly, very experienced mentor, I was asked what should be a simple question: “How much do you think is your fair worth as an employee?” To say I struggled to answer that seemingly simple question is the understatement of the year. I stuttered, grappled and asked for permission and and and…. He patiently waited and listened to me labouring to say absolutely nothing meaningful until finally, I gave in and told the truth, I didn’t know. *sigh* I didn’t know but I was willing to learn the lesson he was trying to teach me.
And so he taught me…
Money in the context of a salary is an uncomfortable topic. It’s an uncomfortable topic for most people, more so women. That is a reality. However, that does not in any way diminish the value and necessity of knowing how much you should be earning, fairly. The key word is fair. We are not talking here of the vague notion of knowing your worth that is thrown about when people discuss lovers that are bad for them. We are talking doing the market research and understanding what a person with your experience (taking into account the quality of that experience), qualifications and specialised knowledge (or lack thereof) should be earning in a particular industry.
This allows you to fully assess your current situation. To understand how much over or under the market your current employer has pegged you. To understand whether there is room for growth where you are and to plan how to get there. To understand the market forces that influence how much you have in your pocket (like a particular type of accreditation or membership of an organisation) and to effect those things to aid you in improving your prospects. To be able to answer the question, “how much would you like to earn?” when it is posed by a prospective employer and to be able to articulate why in the way a person who truly understands that confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive would.
Finally, the laws of economics apply to you too. So always keep in mind that your service as an employee is a product that you are selling for a fee also known as your remuneration. You want to make sure you have a good idea where supply and demand vis a vis what you can offer to the employer intersect. If you fall into the zone where supply exceeds demand, you need to consider what you can do to increase your value in the market because excess supply diminishes your value. Where demand exceeds supply, understanding that you can ask for more money tilts the scales in the negotiation firmly in your favour.
You can only appreciate these details if you truly know and understand your worth. So take the time to know your worth. You are worth it.