Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Value - we like to think we come into the workplace as key members of our team, someone the managers can count on who has a track record of being dependable and reliable when its the bottom of the ninth with all bases loaded. The harsh reality is your value is earned, not given. As a relatively new (or young) employee you tend to have less competency value to a company as someone with tenure and experience. On the contrary, millennials are crushing the value scale financially, as we typically have lower healthcare costs and our overall compensation packages are, in general, lower than our older counterparts.
When determining your worth its important to be honest with yourself and review a few critical factors: 1) Education (including certifications); 2) Professional History (including honors and organizations); and 3) Life Experience. Look at how far you've come and what developments you've made in your career. If all you have is a Bachelor's Degree you probably shouldn't walk through the door like an expert in your industry, nor should you expect a high six figure salary.
When you determine your worth understand this is your assessment - others may not agree with your conclusion. While you may believe you are highly knowledgeable in your field based on 2-3 years of professional experience, I (as HR) may disagree as I'm looking for someone with 10+ years. The "rule" use to be that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert - if we do the math, that's about 5-7 years for someone working 40 hours per week (40 x 52 = 2,080 hours - 80 hours[major holidays] = 2,000 hours). Personally, I'm thinking it takes about 5-7 years, depending on the amount of time off they have. Either way, my point is your perception vs my perception can be two very different views, so be prepared to flex a little on your value when talking about your salary expectations or role responsibility.
You should also utilize tools like Payscale and Glassdoor to help you narrow down the specific role expectations. These websites gather data from thousands of positions, and can sometimes tell you exactly what others have made in the same job title and location.
There is one time I absolutely will not and do not recommend wavering on your salary value in the workplace. Often times we are asked to pull more weight than that of our job description, which is okay because this is needed to be a team player. However, if you are asked to repeatedly step up and show out, only to be thrown to the wayside when the ship is steady, your company may be taking advantage of you.
For example, let's pretend your team you just lost a member of your team. In the interim, you've been pulling extra time to cover tasks of the vacant role. Once the new hire comes you go back to your day-to-day. Fast forward a few months and you are short staffed again. Being the team player you are, you are happy to take on added responsibility until a replacement is found. Once the team is fully staffed, you are expected to return to your post as if nothing ever changed. In this scenario you are yo-yoing. Your managers are using you as a temporary fix and have no interest in developing your skills, despite the fact that you have shown your value and capabilities. This situation is toxic and you need to address it. Take detailed notes of each action, present the data to your leadership team and ask for reasonable compensation.
Understanding the value you can add to an organization is a critical factor in determining your success in your role, your negotiating power and can aid in your personal growth. Throughout your career, your worth should rise (and potentially fall) depending on where your journey takes you - if you spend 15 years in engineering only to jump into personal photography, your overall value may stagger. Remain focused on your overall career objectives and connected to your spirit to help guide you in the right direction. If you find yourself at a standstill, lets connect! I can help you clear the path and get you back on track.