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Know Your Worth

August 28, 2020

Do you understand your worth?

One of the hardest moments in my life came from a careless comment from a coworker, who offhandedly said, "my boyfriend is like you, he doesn't understand what he's worth."

I remember blinking, and at the time (this was in 2009) I didn't know what she meant by that. I don't think I even commented on what she said; I just let the comment slide on by unchallenged and unquestioned.

But now, 10 years later, I totally get it.

Ouch. 10 years!!!! That's a LONG TIME to go through life at what I consider a critical age (I was 29) not knowing your own worth.

Not understanding that I was actually a pretty amazing person who knew a lot and had a SHIT TON to offer--this affected so many things:

  • how much I was paid in my jobs
  • how much I charged in my own business
  • even how people treated me, or talked to me
  • my ability to set boundaries
  • massive discomfort over saying no to the smallest things
  • confidence in every aspect, from my personal relationships with my partner/family/friends, to career and asking for promotions

Not knowing this basic thing set me up for repeated situations where I was left with the short end of the stick, and a lot of feelings of anger, depression, and hopelessness.

I remember thinking, why do I keep feeling like I'm not getting what I deserve?

Your value is not your job

In 2014 I went through a period of depression. I had just quit my job at Avvo, where I'd worked for 4 years.

I quit with no plan, honestly because it was kind of a rage quit. I served out my notice because I'm always professional, but I simply wasn't getting along with my manager and I finally couldn't take it anymore.

So I quit.

And then reality hit me about 2 weeks later...what was I going to do for work?

I applied to jobs, got some interviews, but the timing wasn't lining up quite right for various reasons.

I started to get depressed about two months in, and I remember crying on my husband's shoulder:

Why doesn't anywhere want me?

I was making that classic mistake of equating my self worth with what I do. Since what I did at the time was just be unemployed, I felt worthless.

Had I truly understood my self worth, I would have known to be patient, and that all things happen for a reason, and that things usually work out if you just wait long enough.

Of course, back then I didn't understand that, not really.

Getting the offer at Amazon

Five months later, I had landed a contract position for Seller Support Editorial at Amazon, and about two weeks in, the team invited me to apply for an open position on the team as a full-time employee. I interviewed, and landed the offer.

Then came my next obstacle. The salary in the offer was for exactly the number I had originally named in my interview, and not a penny more.

Now, I operate on the principle that you should always, ALWAYS negotiate the terms of any job offer, for various reasons:

  • men do it all the time, so why shouldn't women?
  • companies expect to see counteroffers
  • it's always good practice to negotiate
  • negotiating is a sign you know your value
  • increasing your starting salary has long-term benefits for your salary across the board, both here in the current job and in future jobs

So I wanted to negotiate, but I was terrified to because it was well, Amazon. For some reason, I felt that they had all the leverage. I basically agonized over this and gave myself an ulcer for three days.

I even contacted my recruiter at my agency and had lunch with him to review the offer and ask him if the salary seemed good enough. He said it was pretty good, but I still felt somewhat unsure.

On the one hand, it was more money than I'd ever made in my life, but on the other hand, what did I know? I had no real basis for comparison. My career had taken off very quickly, so every job I made more than I did at the previous job by leaps and bounds, so I didn't really have a good yardstick to measure by.

The bottom line was I didn't want to be that chump that took an offer unknowingly if I could do better.

But how much was better? I had no idea!

Finally, my husband exasperatedly asked me what I was so afraid of.

  • Me: I don't know, I don't even know how much more to ask for!
  • Him: Ask for 10k more!
  • Me: What?!! That's way too much.
  • Him: Why?
  • Me: They're going to laugh in my face. There's no way I can ask for that.
  • Him: You can always ask. It's not like they're going to rescind the offer even if you ask for too much.
  • Me: Really?
  • Him: Um, yeah!!! Think about all the work they had to put in to find you, and then interview you, and put the offer together. They're going to try and make it work.
  • Me: *lightbulb moment*

So, I went back to the offer email, and asked for $7000 more, and cited all of my various skills that are way beyond what the team had at the moment as my reasoning. Amazon increased my offer by $3000, and said in no uncertain terms that this was their final offer because I was at the max end of the salary range--take it or leave it.

So I said ok, I accept. I was relieved to have this part over with, but at the same time I had this wacky desire to push that limit one last time and check to see if the final offer really was the final offer, but I decided not to do that.

This whole process and all the agony it generated all stemmed from me not truly knowing my self-worth.

Signs you're not confident in your self-worth

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Here are some hints that you struggle to understand just how wonderful you are:

  • it's hard to set your pricing
  • you're unable to negotiate for that promotion
  • the idea of leaving your job for a better one seems out of reach
  • clients end up getting you to do things you don't want to do all the time

Here's the real deal. In order to perform your best, get all the things you want and deserve, you really have to know your value.

When you really know your worth and you stand tall and proud in that, you'll be able to walk away, because you KNOW that there will always be another opportunity.

Do you know what YOU bring to the table? Need help figuring this out? Let me know in the comments below, or contact me. Everyone is welcome to call me up and chat, and it's totally free. I'm here for you.

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