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Work matters - Know your worth

Know your worth, fair pay, equal remuneration, what are you worth, am I getting paid enough

It's not uncommon to feel undervalued by your employer. So, if you want to make sure you're getting fair and equal remuneration, read on.

Let's start with a simple question: what are you worth? Yes, we're talking money, but not exclusively so – your skills, experience, qualifications and even your personality all contribute to your 'value' as an employee.

Here's DialExpotel's step-by-step guide to finding out what your worth is and how to use it to your advantage.

Rate yourself

The first step is to identify your 'career capital' – the sum of your worth to your employer.

The first step is to identify your 'career capital' – which, according to Corinne Mills, Telegraph Jobs' career expert and MD of Personal Career Management, is the sum of your worth to your employer.

Think experience, achievements and 'hard skills' such as software knowledge or another language, but also 'soft skills' such as being a good mediator or being able to handle a tricky client.

It's not always easy to be objective about your skills and personal capabilities, says Corinne, so try to talk it through with someone else.
"Ideally this would be a career coach, but it could also be a trusted friend or colleague with more senior experience to give you perspective," she says.

The bottom line

So, how can you find out if your salary is appropriate to your 'career capital'? Once you've worked out exactly what your job entails and the skills you bring to it, you're in a better position to evaluate whether you're being remunerated properly.

Start by talking to trusted colleagues and friends in similar roles to you – this will give you an idea of what the salary range should be. If you can't bear to do this, recruitment companies and your trade journal can also provide a benchmark.

The web is a mine of information, too: Total Jobs and Monster have online salary checkers, and Benchmark My Pay has a genius website, too.

Take action

Your salary far exceeds the norm for your sector and all is well with the world. No? In which case you need to approach your manager.
This is business, remember, so the conversation needs to be centred around your work and the benefits you and your skills bring to the organisation.

Business coach Marielena Sabatier says the key to successful pay-rise negotiation is having evidence to support your claim. "Arm yourself with facts," she says.

The key to successful pay-rise negotiation is having evidence to support your claim. Arm yourself with facts...

"Give specific examples of your achievements where your performance has had a benefit to the organisation," she adds. Anything you have done over and above your job description is a winner, too.

Laurell McManus of McManus HRD, whose consultancy specialises in resources and training, recommends a back-up position, considering all the outcomes before you step into your meeting.

"Tell them how much you are looking for," adds Corinne, "but make it reasonable. And don't threaten to leave, which could back-fire." Awareness is key, also. Don't undersell yourself, but be honest about any weak areas, too. 

The last resort

So, they said no? If you presented your argument professionally and sold your benefits knowledgeably, there's no reason this should spoil your future career developments with the firm.

If you're looking for a silver lining to this professional cloud, all your preparation puts you in a better position than ever to sell your wares to another employer (never mind giving you a much better idea of what you should be looking for salary-wise).

If the worst comes to the worst, employment solicitor Euan Lawrence of Blacks Solicitors LLP advises considering serving your employer with an Equal Pay Questionnaire (available online) to find out – at the very least – if you're being paid fairly. A last resort, maybe, but a measure that's in place to protect us all.

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