Know Your Worth

“Bodacious” means to be bold, outstanding, and remarkable. Take those attributes to work and you’re on your way to building a fulfilling, bodacious career. Does having a bodacious career sound exciting to you? It is! After starting as an $8 an hour customer service rep, I rose through the ranks of AOL, accepting four promotions and surviving over six layoffs to become the head of corporate training for 12,000 employees. Along the way I learned I needed to be bodacious to achieve the career I wanted. Out of that experience I created my “cheat sheet” of essential Bodacious Career Builders. Here’s one: Know Your Worth

Self-esteem is the climate control in your life’s house. No matter what is raging outside, when your self-esteem is healthy and functioning, you are safe, dry and secure within. Unfortunately, our culture tends to confuse self-esteem with self-absorption, self-centeredness or just plain old selfishness, and we discourage women from putting ourselves first. It’s still seen as somehow charming to be modest to the point of self-deprecation (“this old thing?”) or to be demur to the point of stepping out of our own spotlight that you worked so hard to create.

Observe the ways you might be putting yourself down, without even knowing it. Telling jokes on yourself. Confessing feelings of inadequacy to clients, coworkers or bosses. Taking on assignments of lesser quality or no long-term benefit. Allowing vague or inaccurate criticisms go unchallenged in your performance appraisal. Accepting a salary that is less than what your skills are worth.

If your self-worth is tightly entwined with the company you work for, a single downturn in the market could send you spinning down the drain. You would be tempted to preserve your job there no matter what and possibly loose opportunities in other companies or the direction of your career. The Bodacious Woman always knows her worth. She knows how her skills are valued in the marketplace and what those skills are worth, both strategically and financially. With a clear understanding of her intrinsic worth, the Bodacious Woman is able to bring her contributions to a wide variety of markets. When hard times come, she repackages her skills to appeal to the new marketplace. All the while, the original value remains intact – never lessened, always growing.

Bodacious Women also know their price. When it comes to negotiating a salary, most working women are clueless. The good girl mode kicks in under pressure. We’re afraid of looking too aggressive, ungrateful, greedy or full of ourselves. We are just grateful for the offer. It goes against our social training to go after a better compensation and benefits package. In fact, it doesn’t even occur to most of us. Keep this in mind, when hiring managers describe a salary and benefits package, they have one main objective in mind – to get the best possible talent for the least possible expense. They’re not going to volunteer the fact that they can go higher in salary or negotiate concessions in your benefits package. Many companies, especially large ones, conduct regular labor market assessments to determine if their salaries are competitive. They use this information to adjust their established pay ranges for each position. Because payroll is one of the biggest expenses of running a business, they often offer you the lowest salary possible and hope to keep you satisfied.

What they want you to know is that their philosophy to pay competitively. They want you to feel that your skills and abilities are valued so you will produce good work. What they don’t want you to know is how the salary they are offering compares with the established pay range. Don’t assume it’s within the range. Generally, if your hiring manager thinks you will be satisfied with a salary below the pay range, he or she will extend the initial offer below that spread.

So, before negotiating a salary, do your homework of what your skills are currently worth in the market place. Check out these Web sites and come prepared:

In addition, always ask for more than the initial offer, even if it’s only $2,000 or $3,000 more. You’ll communicate that you highly value your skills and the contributions you can offer their company and that you expect to be paid for it. Your self-esteem will be shining through.

BODACIOUS CAREER BUILDER: Be clear about what your skills and abilities are worth in the marketplace and don’t settle for anything less.

Copyright (c) 2007 Mary Foley