Why do we accept low pay?
Everyone else is doing it.
This bridge-jumping perspective is obviously wrong, yet perfectly understandable at the same time.
Social norms almost always exist for a good reason.
But sometimes, the majority is wrong.
If the majority accepts half of what they're worth, let them. But don't let yourself make the same mistake. Use the tools in the sections below to find out how you can rid yourself of an unfair pay rate, and get what your hard work and effort warrants.
In Ecuador, the highest paying jobs pay somewhere in the ballpark of $4 an hour. I remember telling Isabel (my Spanish teacher at the time) that she could triple that rate if she started freelancing online. To you it's obvious — $12 an hour is chump change, even on the most skeezy freelance sites out there — but to her it wasn't possible. Everyone she knew made less than $4 an hour, and somehow she accepted that as her reality. I told her I could help get everything set up and show her how things work online. Her answer was something along the lines of "wow, that sounds great", but her eyes said "no one here makes that much money and I won't either".
It takes courage to step out of the herd and walk in a different direction.
Insecurity kills our chances before confidence gets a chance to take root. Everyone says the same thing, over and over like a broken record — "The economy's bad", "Unemployment is high and jobs are scarce", "You're lucky to have a job in this economy, be thankful for what you have".
I'll tell you right now, you should be thankful for that kind of talk.
Good Economy, Bad Economy and Truth
While everyone else believes that the economy has failed them, you can go forward with the same confidence you had in the "good" economy, and take the high-paying jewels everyone else walked over. They believed a lie and it blinded them to the gems scattered before their eyes. It's a tough thing because it's easy to let yourself become blind to the amazing opportunities that are still out there.
Even if you had the perception to see those opportunities, you may not have the fortitude to reach out and take them, due to an incorrect assumption of what you're worth. So you need to open your eyes to the opportunities, and know what you're worth.
You need to:
- Thoroughly understand your market. Not what everyone else says, because their information is almost always an unhappy regurgitation of someone else's inaccurate, wikipedia-browsed information.
- Figure out your true value — not what your boss is willing to pay you.
- Know the average salary of your career and position, specific to your city and state.
Let's go over that in further detail in my article "Why You Get Paid Half Your Worth — And What to Do About it (Part 2)", where we'll discuss how to research your job supply and demand, find out what you're really worth, and go over your salary-leverage options.