No one wants to find out that they’re being underpaid, no matter how much you love your job. It makes you feel under-appreciated and even taken advantage of. That's why it’s important to know what people in similar positions are being paid. Luckily, there are some very easy ways to figure out these statistics. Recruiters, friends in the business, and various websites that list the information you’re looking for are great places to start. Checking in at Salary.com is an easy and popular way to find out what the salary range is for someone in your position. Other websites, like salarylist.com, list out salaries at specific companies. Lastly, there’s glassdoor.com, where current and former employees anonymously give information about their salary, benefits, and the inside "skinny" on what it’s like to work at the company.
These are useful tools that every working person should be taking advantage so as not to be in the dark about the generally accepted value of your job. In fact, I counsel people to go out on interviews occasionally, even if they’re not in the job market, to get a better idea of what else is out there and how much people are earning. But even with the most accurate information, your value in the marketplace compared to your value at your company is not so black and white.
There are many other factors that one has to consider when determining the value of your job. It’s important to remember that we’re not just talking about ‘an empty job’, but a job with YOU in it. The creativity, enthusiasm, control and efficiency that you bring to a job is just as valuable as the work you deliver.
There’s also the value that the job has to you, including the admiration you have for your company and the people that work there. Job stability, depending on your current stage in life, can also have a significant impact as you weigh the value your job has to you.
Additionally, there are intangible factors that mean different things to different people at different points in their life. To a young parent with a growing family and a hefty mortgage, stability is worth everything. If you’re in a steady job with a predictable future with very limited risk or turbulence, that role may have a value that’s hard to pin a dollar figure to. If you’re tempted by the same job with another company that’s $10K higher but the new company has a toxic environment, an increase in pay may not ultimately be worth it. Chance are if you’re the last one hired-first one fired, you’ll wish you had sized up the value of your old job differently.
There are points in your career where other things have more value. For example, in the beginning of your career, in my opinion exposure is extremely valuable. You want to be exposed to bright and creative people who do things and think in different ways. Working in a vacuum early in your career may cut off valuable links to connections and a lost understanding for the deeper intricacies of an industry or network. You don’t want to be tucked away, but rather, to be where you can observe the many moving parts and how they interconnect to drive a company’s mission forward.
Also, I believe that the "star power" of a particular company is highly valuable to have at the beginning of your career. Not only is it a building block and a show-stopper on most resumes – it also sets the stage for the rest of your career because recruiters will have a better understanding of what you've been through and what you may have experienced.
At other points in your career, growth opportunities may be more important. Growth opportunities can help you stay relevant, explore other areas of interest, and increase your value as an employee. Companies who offer significant opportunities may be best for candidates looking to broaden areas of expertise, take on managerial roles, and climb the company ladder.
There may be a point in your career where getting that opportunity is an advantage worth more than an immediate increase in pay. And even if your salary is a tad low because you sought out the opportunities for growth, overtime your ultimate value at a company is sure to increase.
Overall, the best way to increase the value of your job, is to increase your value to the company. If you’re the one who can put the CEO at ease, whose relationship with the technical staff is smooth as silk, or can keep a professional demeanor in any environment, you have the ability to bring more valuable to a company; more value than any salary comparison site could possibly reveal. Be sure you’re weighing all these factors when you’re trying to figure out if your company is paying you what you’re worth.
Happiness comes from the commitment you have to what you’re doing and what you put into the job to get it done. It’s important to know your value and to earn what you’re worth. But if you’re constantly looking to see if the grass is greener somewhere else, you may lose sight of the valuable intangibles you currently have. I encourage you to check national averages for salaries of roles similar to yours, but at the end of the day, remember to calibrate those averages with several other important intangible factors in order to get a true understanding of your overall worth.
Sandra Charet is the President and Sr. Executive Recruiter for PR at Charet and Associates. With over twenty years of experience behind her, Sandy is expert at identifying and recruiting marketing and communications talent across the country for companies of all sizes.