What you are worth

Image by Samuel Zeller

Image by Samuel Zeller


What’s your number? If you don’t know what you are worth, then you are leaving value on the table.

Number one thing you need in any negotiations in order to be successful:


And that fits perfectly into our discussion of value. We need to understand our value, because our end goal is going to be getting that value.

But how do we know what we want? Do we just pick a number out of a hat? No, we spend time and figure out what that number is. If we were going to invest our money, we would most likely spend significant amount of time weighing our options between investments. In this case, we are investments, and a worthy one, so let’s spend some time and figure out what it is we are worth. 

I have met many women on my path through casual and more formal conversations, many of whom would confide that they wanted to ask for a raise because they felt they were being undervalued by their companies. Some might have found out that their male counterparts were making more, others would learn that their worth was higher than their salary through talking to recruiters, universities, friends, etc. But when I would inquire how much they are worth, in dollar amount, the answer uniformly was either “I am not sure” or an uncomfortable silence. I have yet to meet a human who can read our minds, but how do we expect somebody to offer us what we want when we don’t even know that?

Image by Mikael Kristenson

Image by Mikael Kristenson

Women aren’t to blame, we are brought up in the society where boys are taught to think about providing, even though 40% of women are now breadwinners in their households. In HBR’s 2018 study, men are still described as confident and competent while women are described as compassionate and energetic. What I find interesting is that we aren’t born either to be a leader or a supporter, I can assure you that both my daughters are very assertive leaders at their young ages of 8 and 6. In fact, most children I have encountered in my life are the same, sure some tend to be leaders more than others, but all are aware of their needs and wants, and are very capable of advocating on their own behalf. It’s just that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, in the messiness of kids figuring out their identity throughout the confusing years of adolescents, our society often encourages and rewards the behavior of boys that is assertive, loud and demanding, but reprimands the girls for the same behavior, allowing young girls to find comfort in the roles of supporters and cheerleaders. But let’s remember, regardless of where you are right now, we all have value, we all have unique skills and knowledge and untapped potential that we should be compensated in accordance with.

There are three things to consider when we are trying to determine our worth:

market value, personal value, & potential.

Image by Kayla Harris

Image by Kayla Harris

Market value

Market value – pretty self-explanatory, we do the same exercise when we are gearing to purchase a home. If we find a particular house that we like, we would be doing an analysis of how it rates in comparison to the market, taking into account the neighborhood, square footage, amenities, etc. Finding out our market value is a similar approach and it’s easier now than ever. I recommend utilizing not just one, but a few tools such as Glassdoor’s appropriately named “Know Your Worth” tool, PayScale’s “What am I Worth” tool, or Paysa’s “Analyze Your Worth” All these tools take into account your level of education, years of experience, geography, industry, management experience and many other factors that are all relevant inputs in determining your worth. I recommend doing all three of these assessments (or more) to have a better gauge!


Personal value

Personal value – regardless of what or how many tools you have used, the software will never be able to pick up on everything you bring to the table. The software doesn’t know your soft skills and how you handle conflict, it doesn’t know your past track record, and isn’t able to gauge whether you are a critical thinker, that’s something that only you can evaluate and add to your worth. When you are determining your value, focus on hard numbers, soft skills! Talking about hard numbers: if you are in IT, think about how many projects you have delivered on time and on budget. If you are in Marketing, think about how many campaigns you have launched and how many impressions and leads those campaigns generated and how translated into revenue or exposure for business. You get the idea. Tangible things you were able to deliver is a real value you will be bringing to the company, don’t sell yourself short.

This is also a good time to consider your soft skills, something that women are naturally good at, and there is no reason to discount these. Think of handling difficult conversations, ability to diffuse tension in groups under pressure, or craftily motivate and collaborate with cross-functional teams ensuring progress is made.

Image by Brett Jordan

Image by Brett Jordan


Finally, potential! Most hiring managers when looking to add staff to their teams are looking for people with drive, ambition, and potential. Our potential is not something that should be overlooked, and men have been successful at highlighting theirs in order to get more at the negotiating table for quite some time. Angela Duckworth succinctly described potential in a sentence: “There is a difference between people who have 20 years of experience and those who have 1 year of experience for 20 years in a row.” Your potential and drive determine which one you are, and there is a big difference in worth between the two. Don’t discount the heights to which you are driven to climb, and the discipline, curiosity, persistence, and thirst for excellence that will get you there.

Let’s also remember that our worth and value is ever evolving, so don’t forget to re-evaluate it.

I suggest making a plan for the next 2 weeks, where you can carve out 10-15 minutes a day on writing down and evaluating your skills, knowledge, past successes, and future potential and market analysis so you can hone in on the range of what you are worth. Don’t try to land on a number, but rather on a narrow range. Having a range is a better approach anyway! And to take it a step further, put a re-occurring meeting on the calendar for you to check in annually with yourself and ensure that your value is still in a healthy range with your salary.