While your personal worth should certainly be based on more than just your salary, your financial worth is greatly reflected by your salary. Your salary indicates how much your employer values you, and sometimes shows how much you value yourself. If you are too afraid to ask for a raise even though you know that you should be paid more, then you may never get a raise. If you don’t know how your skills stack up to other people’s, or you haven’t done the research to determine what your job should actually pay, then you also might not be getting as much as you should be.
Determining how much you should be paid is a valuable tool for negotiating a raise, and it will also help you if you are interviewing and need to prepare for a salary discussion. Your exact worth will be hard to determine, but you can get a good idea based on the following five tips.
1. Know how much similar jobs pay
One way to research how much you might be worth is to do a basic salary search. Use a site like Salary.com to compare salaries for your job title in your area. The site will show you the bottom 10 percent all the way to the top 90 percent for your job title. Knowing what similar jobs pay in your area can be a powerful negotiation tool. Although you have to make allowances for company size and company profitability, you can at least determine the range for your job category. If you are making near the bottom of the range, and you have been at your company for a while, than you probably should be making more than you are.
2. Factor in your experience
If you’ve been doing the same job for five years, in theory, you should be paid more than someone who starts off right away at the same company. Of course, we know that this doesn’t always happen. If you have been doing your job for a long time, you should be progressively making more and more money. Even if you have switched companies over the years, you still have accrued the experience, and that should help you make more money.
If your company has a salary cap, you might need to talk to your boss about a different job title. If you can’t get a raise but you know for sure that your experience, coupled with salaries for comparable jobs in your community, indicate that you should be making more, you might need to apply for jobs at a different company.
3. Know how valuable your skills are
In addition to your experience in your particular job field, your individual skills also determine just how much you should be paid, or how likely you are to get a promotion or a raise. There may be twenty insurance writers at your company, and five of them may have worked at your same company for at least five years. However, if you have taken the time to update your skills whenever possible, you will have more success marketing yourself. While staying at one company for a long time (or even switching companies but coming in with a lot of experience in the field) is definitely a positive and important aspect of your worth, your individual skills within your field are also very important. Depending on the type of job you have (or want) you can take specific classes to update your skills.
4. Make yourself indispensable to your company
One of the best ways to ensure your worth, and possibly to increase it, is to make yourself indispensable to your company. You can do this in many different ways. Have a positive attitude at work, and help other people regularly. If possible, find ways to save your company money, and become a leader in your department.
Also, if you work with clients, establish friendly and respectful relationships with important clients; if you become a go-to person for an important client, your company will want to keep you around. Your worth will most likely increase if you make yourself indispensable, because your boss won’t want to lose you or replace you.
5. Consider your education level
Education plays a huge part in how much money you make. According to the Pew Research Center, bachelor’s and master’s degrees are continuing to pay off for millennials. In 2009 (the year with the latest available numbers) young adults with only a bachelor’s degree had median monthly earnings of $3,836, and those with a master’s degree made $4,772 per month. Although of course many working professionals are not part of the millennials, but studies have continued to show throughout time that education makes a difference. Many jobs also require a specific education, so if you have worked at your company for ten years but you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you may need to get one to advance to a different job title and to a higher salary.
Although all five of these items are important considerations when determining how much you are worth, part of that determination has to be based on you. If you truly believe you are worth more than you are making, and your company doesn’t agree or can’t compensate you properly, than you might need to move on.