Career Advice

Do You Know Your Employee Worth?

We know our credit score when shopping for a new car and our buying power when purchasing a home, but when it comes to our value as employees, many of us have no clue of our worth. Sure we can get a sense of the salary different roles command, but how much someone should be valued at goes way beyond that.

“Most people think about how much does the job pay but there’s so much more to it,” says Brian Mohr, co-founder and managing partner at Tempe, Arizona-based Y Scouts, a purpose-based leadership search firm. Job seekers and people contemplating a switch also have to think about what they bring to the table and how they will make a difference in the organization, he says.

Rewind a couple of years and people would be happy to have a job, let alone a good paying one. Today, the job market is on the mend and for sought-after skills, there’s even a talent war going on. This means many employees are now in the driver’s seat.

When it comes to determining your value, experts say the first place to start is examining the average salary for your profession and your years of experience. That isn’t difficult to do thanks to the plethora of information online. It also a good idea to check with your network and/or mentors to see what they think you’re worth.

Your worth is based on much more than experience

Once you have a sense of how much someone in your field with your experience makes, the hard work starts. That’s because there is a ton of value found in the non-quantifiable areas such as your innate capability and ability to learn necessary skills, as well as your cultural fit within the organization. According to Rya Conrad-Bradshaw, vice president, managing director, US Partnerships at Fullbridge, you can’t give these skills a score but they do increase your value to employers.

Let’s say you’ve been a salesperson for more than ten years and were single handedly responsible for growing sales at double-digit rates at every company you ever worked for. At the same time, you are an extremely quick learner. That ability to pick things up is going to make you more valuable than someone who is slow to learn, even if he or she is a top salesperson. Same goes with your attitude. You may be great at what you do but if you don’t fit well with the company’s culture, it could be a waste of time for both sides.

Perks can trump salary

Companies don’t come up with a potential employee’s value by looking at their experience alone, and you shouldn’t only consider compensation when mulling an offer or applying for a position. Just like companies, weigh things like your ability to learn and fit into a company culture. You have to decide what’s most important to you.

You have to weigh the other perks whether it’s a flexible work schedule, the ability to work from home, a short commute or a fast tracked career path, says Mohr. The salary may not be impressive but those things that improve your quality of life may matter more and thus carry higher value. “A lot of this is making a trade off,” says Mohr. “Would you take less money and in exchange for what?”

Figuring out your worth is one thing, using it to your advantage is a completely different story. According to career experts, if you have an idea of your value you can use it to your advantage when interviewing and during salary negotiations. Not only will it give you confidence but by learning how much you should command, you also figured out your strengths and will be more prepared to talk about them, says Conrad-Bradshaw.

At the end of the day one of the worst thing anyone looking for a new job or contemplating one should do is get hung up on the salary alone. Wearing blinders can prevent you from identifying a potential gem or taking a job that really does turn out to be too good to be true. “We wouldn’t recommend limiting your options or only applying for a job with a certain salary,” says Syed Hussain, vice president at Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “Candidates who have specialized skills in today’s market may be worth more than they think.”