Are You Earning Your Worth?
Are you earning what you’re really worth? Or are you earning less money than the people around you? Afraid to find out? If so, you are not alone.
Too often, money takes a backseat in professional women’s lives. If you have a good job where you enjoy your work and the people you work with, you may feel like that should be enough. You may even feel greedy when you think about asking for more money, or negotiating for more at the beginning of a new job. However, not making enough money is deeply draining, and its effects on women’s lives are far-reaching. It may mean you don’t have enough money to truly enjoy life, and it may mean you won’t have enough money for retirement.
There is an insidious cumulative effect from not asking
for enough money. Think of it this way: all the raises you receive are
based on where you start. And if you start at a lower salary then your
male counterparts, it can feel like you are always behind, forever trying
to catch up.
1. What is the fair market value for your type of work?
2. What is special about you? Can you command money at the top of the salary range?
If you don’t think you’re earning what you should be, the first thing you must do is find out what the fair market value is for your type of work. This has nothing to do with you personally. It is simply what other people get paid to do what you do. Start with www.salary.com. Look at several positions that are related to what you do. After looking at several descriptions, you will see the salary range for your geographic area. To find other salary sites, go to Google.com and type in “salary survey.” Resist paying for any special reports; there is plenty of free information out there. (If you are self-employed, try typing in “rate survey” + your industry. And “fee survey” + your industry. You may be surprised at what you find!)
Is what you are currently earning somewhere in the range that you found? If you discover you are earning below fair market value, that is a clear sign you are being underpaid. It may be time to ask for a raise or move to an employer who values you more.
What about the second question? What is special about you? Ideally, you want to be earning at the top of the salary range. How can you make a case for this? Do you have special education or a certification? Are you very experienced? Do you get results for your company and your clients? Are you specialized? All of these are good reasons to be earning at the top of the salary range.
These questions also apply to the self-employed. What is so special about you and your business that you can command top dollar? If you are very specialized, or have lots of experience, you can probably set your rates at the top of the range.
Keep in mind that women tend to undersell themselves. Whether you say that women don’t believe they deserve more, or simply can’t imagine making more, the truth remains — women underpay themselves and often accept less then they deserve. Step outside yourself for a moment. If you were advising a friend who was in your position, would you encourage her to ask for more?
Perfection also keeps women from asking for more. Women often feel they need to wait until they are “perfect” before they ask for a raise. Are you waiting until you have more experience, more clients, the next certification, more successful projects under your belt? The list goes on. Our male colleagues are not waiting until they are perfect before they ask for more. Stop waiting!
A final thought. Women spend a lot of time taking care of others. It is time to take care of yourself. Making sure you are earning what you are really worth is a powerful form of self-care. If you are not going to take care of you, who is?
I believe you are worth more.
Mikelann Valterra is the
founder of the Women’s Earning Institute, dedicated to empowering
women to earn what they’re really worth. Through business support
groups, speaking and private work, Mikelann focuses on transforming women’s
relationship to money.
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