Navigating the Minefield of Knowing Your Worth at Work

knowing your worth at work

I’m a big proponent of really knowing your worth at work.

By knowing your value, you are able to confidently (with back up!) advocate for greater responsibilities, ask for a promotion or a raise – either during your annual review OR when your manager asks you to take on additional responsibilities or otherwise add tasks to your plate.

So what if the following occurs: your boss asks you to accept greater responsibility with no mention of title or salary increase. You know the average salary for people in your industry with your level of experience, you’ve carefully documented your contributions and their impact on the company’s bottom line and you’ve quantified and articulated what you’re asking for.

And then….silence. Or the dreaded, “We’re not going to be able to do that.” Or the nebulous, “We’ll see what we can do.”

So what do you DO with that?

Here I share some approaches and scripts for responding:

  • Don’t React: If your manager wants an answer for whether you’ll take the increase in responsibilities without a decision on pay increase, it does not necessarily mean you need to give her one…right now. “I’ll get back to you on Monday,” or “Let’s set up a time to talk when you’ve looked into my request,” are all appropriate responses to avoid reacting in the moment or agreeing to something you might regret because you’re feeling pressure since she’s…right….there…
  • Beware of Scope Creep: In the meantime, while you’re waiting for a final answer, be fully aware of instances where you might be asked to take on the new responsibilities in the new role. Be firm and open with your boundaries and if someone on the team assumes you’re in the new role, say, “It’s not set yet, so I’m actually still in my current role.” If your boss asks you to take on bits of the role, reiterate your willingness to take it on once you meet about your previous requests. A little education (for your colleagues) and a little boundary setting (for your manager) can go a long way.
  • Make Your Acceptable Minimum Clear: If your ask is not approved, make it clear that you’re not going to be able to take on the role for less than $x, your acceptable minimum. Conventional wisdom varies on how one should view their acceptable minimum, so I’ll save that for another post, but the bottom line here is that you’re able to articulate why you won’t do it for less than x title or $x. Example: “Right now I’m not managing anyone, but if this change were to go through (always use the ‘conditional’ verb tense), I’d be doing most of my current job and also responsible for 6 people’s career development and people in similar roles are making $x”.  
  • Part of Knowing Your Value is Knowing When to Walk Away. If you’ve been clear, honest, respectful and logical in stating your case, and it’s absolutely a no-go, you have a choice to make. It may be time to start exploring other positions, reaching out to your network (which you should be doing all the time anyway!) and straight up being open to a jump.

Want to learn more about understanding your worth at work? Join me on July 28 at noon EST for a special class on this very topic! Click here to attend.

About the Author

Jill Ozovek is a certified career coach in New York City. Her practice focuses on helping Millennial and mid-career women find and develop careers that align with their passions. For more info on your own career change and Jill’s Career Change Kitchen course, click here.