Do you feel like you get paid what you’re worth? Regardless if you answered yes or no to that question, I want to tell you that nobody pays you what you think you’re worth. They pay you what they think you’re worth.
The good news is you have the power to change their thinking because the key to get paid what you’re worth lies in your ability to define and communicate your value. This is a critical part of negotiating your salary in any role.
Notice that it has nothing to do with your current or most recent salary. That is irrelevant and in some states, it’s now illegal to ask for salary history before an offer is on the table.
How to Get Paid What You’re Worth
I want to share a story of how a client of mine, let’s call him Walter, negotiated a 30% increase from the original offer that he received.
To give you a little background, Walter was a VP of Sales in the manufacturing industry and was unemployed at the time. His previous 3 jobs he had been at for only 2 years each so he felt like he looked like a job hopper to potential employers. He also was approaching 60 years old.
Also read: How to Ace the Counter Offer Stage
Know Your Market Value and How to Communicate It
Since your current or most recent salary isn’t relevant to getting paid what you’re worth, the first step Walter took was to define his market value.
This is essential to complete before you even have that first interview. You need to create an accurate salary range that includes three numbers – your delighted number, your desired number and your don’t take it number. Think of this as your three Ds.
- Delighted – what will make you really happy, thrilled, or ecstatic. It could be a package you think you’re not likely to get, but there is a possibility.
- Don’t take it – as low as you’ll go. If the offer is below this number, don’t walk away immediately, but definitely declare you’re too far apart and ask for time to consider it.
- Desired – between these two. It’s where you realistically think you’ll end up.
In order to figure out these numbers for yourself, you need to do your research. First, discover what other people with the same title are earning. You can get this information from websites like GlassDoor.com, PayScale.com or Salary.com. You can look at industry surveys too. Sometimes the larger recruitment firms, like The Creative Group do their own salary surveys. Or, even a niche recruiter like Bernhart Associates Executive Search offers salary ranges for digital and direct marketers. This can give you a basic salary range.
Next, know how well you can do the job versus other candidates’ abilities. Are you above average? Are you well known in your industry? Do you have a special expertise? These things factor into your special value. In other words, what do you bring to the table to raise that basic salary range?
Then, think about the level of contribution you’re going to make to the company. Will you have a direct impact to the bottom line? If your answer is yes, you can add more to your value. Remember an employer brings you on because they believe you will help them earn more than what you cost, which is, of course, your salary. Think of it as your personal ROI.
Also read: How to Bounce Back from a Lowball Job Offer
Once you have this figured out, you’ll be able to calculate your own personal market value, and not just a calculated increase from what you most recently earned.
Walter’s numbers for his base salary were $225K (Delighted), $150K (Don’t take it) and $200K (Desired). He landed an offer to be the general manager for a European-based manufacturer that was expanding into the U.S. Market. Unfortunately, that offer came in right at $150K.
Initially, he was torn about what to do. The role seemed like a perfect fit other than the salary. He would be challenged with more responsibility than he ever had in the past since he would be overseeing two plants – much more than a typical VP of Sales role.
So Walter armed himself with a report from Salary.com and the confidence to clearly communicate the value of his knowledge and experience for this role. He successfully negotiated a 30% increase from that initial offer and took the job.
Now, do you feel like you get paid what you’re worth? Did your answer change from the beginning of the article? When you know your numbers and can clearly communicate your value, you’ll get paid what you’re worth.
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