6 Career Influencers on Understanding Your Value
Your value—it sounds like a nebulous concept when you don’t have any context for what it really means.
Basically, your value is how much you should be paid according to the market—based on your skillset, your years of experience, and other things you bring to the table. It’s not an easy thing to figure out, but, over time, it’s something you can learn and adjust accordingly as you build your career and negotiate for what you’re worth.
Still working on figuring out your market value? Here’s advice from six career influencers on how you can figure out yours.
“In my experience, the key to making a persuasive argument for a salary increase is information.
The first type of information is the salary range for your position in your industry sector. In the sports world, a communications job in college sports may require a similar set of skills as a comparable position at a professional sports league, but because college sports generally have a lower salary structure for management-level employees, the two positions may differ dramatically in terms of compensation. Similarly, people in non-profits and fields like education and public service need to have realistic expectations about salary growth and should be prepared to seek out other employment if salary concerns become pressing.
The second type of relevant information is the salary range for a person with your job and your level of experience within your own organization. This information may be hard to come by, but if you have access to it, it can work to your advantage. For example, after I had been working for several years at a prominent sports organization, I learned that a junior employee with lesser responsibilities was making more money than I was. Incensed, I immediately approached my boss, who readily acknowledged the inequity and bumped up my pay. Thankfully, the quality of my work was high, so I had leverage. Sadly, had I not come forward, I doubt my bosses would have made the “correction” voluntarily.
The lesson? Speak up, use facts and be your own best advocate.”
– Val Ackerman, Commissioner of the Big East Conference and the first president of the Women’s National Basketball Association from 1996-2005
“When you are asking for a raise in a job that you have been doing for some time, sit down and remind them of your recent achievements and talk about how much more you are excited to contribute. Outline some tantalizing projects you think you can deliver.
For a new job it’s different. Do your research! Once when I was interviewing someone for a job they asked me for a higher salary than I, their potential boss, was being paid. That showed me they didn’t understand our business and they would be an unrealistic negotiator in an important role for the company. I didn’t hire them.”
– Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer at Hearst, former Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan
The biggest mistake I have seen people make is not asking for what they want. Bosses can’t read minds, so it’s never good to assume that they know what you think is fair—so don’t wait if you think you deserve a raise. Be up front. Define what you believe is reasonable, why you think you have earned it, and be direct with your ask. Then be willing to listen to feedback and be prepared to understand that there may be a different number you can accept, after you hear why.
It’s also good when they understand we may not be aligned at this time, in terms of their ask for more compensation, but if they ask how they can continue to grow, contribute, and be clear on next steps and timing for future consideration for a raise, we can agree on a plan to get them where they want to be.
Know in advance what you think is fair and why. Communicate that clearly, highlight your contributions to the company, and make your case. And never come into the conversation with an ultimatum; that doesn’t work. Come in prepared to show how you add value to the company, why a raise is fair, and ask.
– Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, former CEO of Guitar Hero and COO at Yahoo!
“People should negotiate more for raises at work, but don’t misinterpret that advice. Negotiating for the sake of negotiating is not effective. You can’t get more money because you think you “deserve” it or want to buy a bigger house—as more than one person has said to me. Getting a raise is about doing your research and demonstrating your market value. Three tips can help here:
Collect data: You may think that you deserve $150,000 per year, but if the market doesn’t agree, you’ll waste a lot of time, energy and good will trying to convince your employer. Negotiating a raise begins with researching market comparables to know what people in similar jobs earn.
Create options: In your research, avoid focusing solely on salary. Instead, think of all the things that your employer could offer that have value to you. What about tuition benefits, a company car, a health club membership, a loan program? Work to bring multiple options and market reference points to the table when talking about compensation.
Use silence: After you gather and distill the market data and calmly present a proposal to your boss, don’t keep talking to fill air time or back down because you feel bad for asking. Give your boss time to absorb what you have said and to do his/her job, which is to respond thoughtfully and wisely to the data you have presented. Silence is one of the most under-used power moves in negotiation.”
– Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
“My first job was in my late teens—I got $23,000 a year. I didn’t negotiate my salary at all when I was first starting out my career. I was just lucky and grateful to have a job. Fast forward, when I started working in my mid-20s, I found my inner chutzpah to start asking for more, to start figuring out my value.
When I got my first major contract, I negotiated a 10 percent increase of what they were giving me. That probably wasn’t the best way to go about it, because I didn’t know what the value of that salary actually was, so I was negotiating against myself instead of having a conversation to figure out what other folks were making. It’s like putting your house on the market but not knowing the comp of the area—you don’t know exactly how to price it.
My biggest win was when I figured out what other folks were making and I asked for the same. And I when realized that if I didn’t ask, the answer would always be no.”
– Nicole Lapin, author of Boss Bitch and former news anchor on CNBC, CNN Headline News, and CNN International from 2005-2009
“My advice? Just like sports, you should play the game and then negotiate after you win the playoffs. Asking for a raise before you’ve shown your value to your employer doesn’t help them understand why you’re valuable to them.
As for understanding your value on the market, to continue the sports metaphor, remember to play for the love of the game rather than the money. (AKA, dig deep into your career and enjoy it!) After success at work, when the time comes, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your efforts by asking your managers for what you’ve earned, and it’ll make sense to them too. That is what real champions do.”
– Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports, former CMO of AOL