Whether you’re at that crunch point with a new employer or sitting pretty with a current employer, we often need to ask ourselves the question – How much should I be getting paid? What am I actually worth?
In your professional life, your worth to an employer is largely judged by the dollar value they have assigned to you; i.e., your pay package. So how do you figure out what you deserve to get paid?
It’s impossible to compare yourself with anyone or apply a value to something that doesn’t have a clear shape. Your role may have very clear guidelines on what is involved and fit easily into a generic job description that can be found on any job seeker site. Then again, it may not. Do you split your role with someone else? Do you have extra responsibilities? To start assessing what you should be paid, you need to nail down exactly what is it you do/will be doing and the responsibilities that are involved.
Be clear on what YOU are bringing to the role. Experience, qualifications, and connections all play into an employer’s view of your worth. They are going to be asking themselves what value you do or can add to their organisation, so you need to as well. I recommend sitting down and focusing on these questions:
How many years of experience do I have?
What qualifications have I completed?
What relevant industries have I worked in?
Do I have any valuable industry network connections?
What sets me apart and adds professional value?
Know what the job market is doing
Although not ideal, job markets change over time. Meaning your role may be in more or less demand as it was previously. You have to be extra careful not to put employers offside with unrealistic market rate expectations. Take the time to look into what roles for your skill-set are being advertised online or speak to a Recruitment Consultant – one who understands your skill set and industry well. Good recruiters are happy to give advice and share their knowledge on the markets they serve.
Get a salary range and figure out where you fit in it
From your job market research, you should have gained a pretty good idea of what the salary range for your role is. This is where your understanding of the role and what you bring to it comes in. Be honest with yourself and maybe have some frank discussions with people in the industry or friends with similar skill sets. Larry might make more than you and sit at the top of the bracket, but he also may come with an extra university degree and 5 years more experience – don’t automatically assume you’ll get paid the highest rate you find.
**Cough** Don't forget we put together annual defence specific salary survey data in our Defence Industry Insights to help give you a guide of these salary ranges.
Figure out what you actually need
Be clear about what your current financial situation is regarding incomings and outgoings. Speak to your family, accountant or advisor to understand what salary you need, week to week. Maybe your situation has changed and you actually need to be pushing for a little bit more. And that’s ok, just make sure it fits within the assessments you made in the above steps.
Assessing your professional worth can be a difficult task, especially since discussing salaries is quite taboo. However; resenting your future or current employer because you feel underpaid and undervalued before you start is not a great way to develop your career satisfaction.
We all need to re-assess our value, responsibilities and renumerating with time and role changes. The important thing to remember when it comes to setting your salary or asking for more is being well equipped and well informed.