What are you worth?

Many years ago a mentor taught me a very important lesson. He said: the value you place on yourself, is the value the market will place on you (aka: what you are worth). This concept can be harder to embrace than what one may think. It takes confidence, truthful assessment, courage, and the chutzpah to do something about it – if you are not happy with where the market has placed you.

There are a few key points to consider:

1. First, we need to make sure we know what our job is worth in the marketplace. We do this by conducting an evaluation of our skills, productivity, job tasks, contribution to the market, and the going rate, both inside and outside of a company, for what we do. This is the ‘baseline’. It is not the ‘final factor’ – yet it does give us a benchmark as to where to begin. What I know for sure is that being underpaid even a thousand dollars a year can have a significant cumulative effect over the course of our working life.

2. Secondly, it is VERY important to note that not all professionals who do the ‘same thing’ are created equal. Not all doctors, lawyers, business execs, coaches, teachers, athletes, etc. are equal in the VALUE (perceived or real) that they provide. We know this…..just read the sports section or your medical claims report (aka: what specialists, anesthesiologists, etc. charge you) to have your memory  refreshed. Yet, ironically, we are often afraid to ask for what we believe we are worth. We KNOW we add value – as the ROI from our clients/customers from our product/service is evident. Our clients gain market share, get promoted, get new clients, get raises, etc. and many times it is directly attributable to the efforts provided by our products or services. Yet, we often tend to ‘cower’ due to peer pressure, erroneously commoditized offerings, and naive client demands, and then fall to the lowest common denominator – which does not serve us well.

3. Third, and this is geared for the women reading this article, women earn literally just 79 cents for every dollar men make in 2019. That is the ‘raw’ gender pay gap. And if you question that reality, there are a few articles which will astound you. Yet, in many cases, ladies, we own it. Only 34% of us will negotiate our salary versus 47% of men. I am not suggesting that we go in with ‘guns blazing’; however, I am suggesting we research and know our value in whatever field in which we focus – so that when we negotiate (for a position, a service contract, or any other job), we come from a position of strength and confidence. And, if you are curious about where or how to start….this book by Mika Brzezinski will give you food for thought.

4. Finally, I am an ardent believer that we, more often than not, ‘get what we pay for’. Not everyone is created equal in the world of business – and thus the deliverable from each person and/or company will also not be equal. It is ridiculous to think that someone right out of college, with no ‘school of hard knocks’ experience will have the same perspective as someone who has been in the working world for 25-30+ years. Yet, it also has merit in some fields to have people who are ‘young and fresh out the research labs’  – so that they are current on the latest developments. Again – one size does not fit all. Our DIFFERENTIATION can be based several things:

  • Our experience  – ideally being successful in more than one field and/or company.
  • Our  wisdom  – honed through our experiences and our knowledge and our vulnerabilities
  • Our reputation and our relationships – ALL business and life is 100% about relationships – and our reputation is what other folks think and say about us.
  • Our track record – diverse, proven, hard-won.
  • Our currency  – not being outdated in our field – always learning, growing, and adapting new approaches. Let’s face it – we want to work with someone who is updated not working from the deck of 1995!
  • Our ability to help your clients achieve whatever it is they have hired you or your company to do – and do so in a way which meshes with their style, their culture, and their desires.

So no…..we are not all created equal in our fields. So, if you wonder ‘why is that person charging more than what you think may be a standard price for that service’…..look far deeper than that. We are a compilation of our entire life and professional experiences….and that speaks volumes for some, and only a ‘short story’ for others.

So…..do you know your worth? Do you know how to express your value? If not….now is the time to master that art.