Today I’d like to explain why it’s not your fault if you’re currently underpaid, how you can determine if you’re being paid what you’re worth – and if you’re not, what you can do about it.
WHEN IT’S YOUR SKIN IN THE GAME…
First, it’s important to understand that we were never taught in the course of our education - or even at our jobs - how to negotiate our own compensation package. I’ve seen people who are incredible negotiators when it comes to sales or vendor contracts, but when they negotiate for themselves – when it’s their own skin in the game – they fall flat on their face.
This is often because they not only undervalue what they bring to an employer as an investment, they can “fall in love” with the position or company and make concessions. If they’ve already pictured themselves in that new position, and want the job that badly, they’ll do it for less than what they are truly worth. Don’t let this happen to you!
DETERMINE YOUR WORTH
The first thing you can do is understand what the market is currently paying for your skill set and your level of responsibility. I recommend the free salary calculator at www.Salary.com as a starting point. It will tell you what you should be making in your position. I have found it to be the most accurate at determining local market value in the United States. It will even give you stats like the industries the samples came from, the size companies of the sample data and the breakdown of education level and years of experience for that particular position.
Salary.com will give you a distribution, or a bell curve, for what people are making in your position in your geographic area. In my experience, if you have 5 years or less in a position, you should be at about the 35th percentile in salary plus bonus (total compensation). If you have close to 10 years or more at this level of responsibility, you should be above the 50th percentile in total comp, even when switching industries. This is what we have consistently been able to get for our clients.
If your company is paying you tens of thousands of dollars less than what the market is paying for your job, then it’s time to start looking at other opportunities! The most you can expect to negotiate in your current role at your current company is 10% to 15% tops – it’s just too hard to earn a lot more than what you’re making when the bar has been set so low in your compensation package.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION
To be paid what you’re worth, you need to start from scratch by creating a new perception of your abilities; in other words, a new personal brand. You are in control of the perception other people have about you before they meet you and as they are getting to know you, and that perception needs to be a top performer at the peak of their career. It starts with a great resume, but also must include a robust LinkedIn profile that will get tremendous attention.
CLAIM YOUR EXPERTISE
Negotiations actually start with your initial impression, and continue throughout any hiring conversations you will have. When you position yourself as an expert from the start, the employer understands they will need to pay more to get you and keep you happy. So own your expertise!
I haven’t met one person in my 15 years of working in the career field that isn’t an expert at something. And remember, you don’t have to be a national authority or an author to be an expert – you just have to know more about the subject than the person interviewing you, which, if you are deeply experienced in what you do, isn’t a stretch goal for you!
You can also hear more of my advice on the subject by watching the video below.
Make this a very productive week!