Determining Your Value

There's no one like you! Set yourself apart and learn how to communicate your unique skill set to an employer.

Knowing your worth at work is crucial to negotiation, job-hunting strategy, and determining where you fit in your organization. For many jobs, the value of an employee can be unclear. Who is to say which social worker is doing the best job or how much revenue an IT security analyst is generating? 

Fortunately, there are techniques to help you determine and communicate your value in any role. Here’s how to know your worth at work. 

Check the data

Sites like Glassdoor and Payscale have given the 21st-century worker more information to determine their worth at a company. The movement to make employee salaries more transparent gives you a tremendous amount of data for the value of your job title to specific companies and to the labor market as a whole.

You can search salary databases to find employees who live in your area with comparable work experience. Be sure to consider the sample size you search and the potential for selection bias on self-reported salary information.

Consult with recruiters

Recruiters review and speak with thousands of candidates per year. Industry recruiters have a nuanced understanding of what makes an employee valuable, even if the employee doesn’t. 

If you’re close with a recruiter at your company, reach out and let them know you’re interested in understanding how to articulate your value. Alternatively, you could message a few recruiters on LinkedIn and ask for some honest feedback on your resume. Recruiters tend to be outgoing and excited to forge new connections; many will be happy to give you an outsider’s assessment of your value to a company.

Compare quality and efficiency to co-workers

Depending on the size of your organization and the exposure you have to employees doing similar work, an easy way to determine your worth at work is to compare the quality and efficiency of your work to peers. 

What does your attendance and attitude look like compared to your co-workers? How often are you showing initiative on projects and what feedback do you receive on the work you submit?

Don’t forget to take the time to really understand and evaluate your performance review and what feedback you receive from your supervisor. Make sure you understand how you are progressing in your company’s standardized promotion calendar.

Who needs who more?

A powerful litmus test for directionally assessing your worth at work is to consider whether you are more valuable to your employer than they are to you. Generally, this has to do with the demand for your skills, but also with how you multiply your impact by getting the best out of others.

If you get the sense that your employer would have difficulty replacing you, you might request an earlier performance appraisal meeting and negotiate your salary. The extent to which your employer needs you can be used in combination with salary data for your title to extrapolate wherein the salary range you fall. 

How to show your value

Once you’ve determined the value you bring to your company, you might want to communicate this information to upper management. If you are underpaid, underutilized, or improperly titled, you’ll miss out on valuable career capital unless you advocate for yourself.

While it can feel tactless to talk yourself up, sometimes this is the only way to be given a fair look. More subtle ways to signal your worth at work are to act as a resource and mentor for others at your company, take on public or high-profile assignments, or plan celebrations at work to thank your teammates following shared achievements. 

Once you convince one senior leader that you’re a highly valuable employee, they’ll act as your champion and spread the word. It’s in management’s interests to get the best out of you and to compensate you well enough so you stay with the company.

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