Why You Get Paid Half Your Worth — And What to Do About it (Part 2)

what the mind can conceive quote

In "Why You Get Paid Half Your Worth — And What to Do About it (Part 1)" we learned that perception is not always reality.

If you're still with me, you now have a good idea of what needs to happen to get paid better.

Here's the goldmine of hands-dirty specifics. 

Your Supply and Demand

It's all about supply and demand. I'm not going to tell you that your job has a high demand. You may be a peacock trainer for all I know, and I doubt there's much of a demand for those these days. But for most occupations, the jobs are still plentiful — and this is how you research your demand and supply:

  1. Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Find a low-demand career there
  3. Search for it on sites like Indeed and Monster Jobs, and record the number of recent job posts
  4. Next, search your occupation — compare the number of jobs you find in your occupation with the jobs found for the low demand job
  5. Lastly, do the same with a high demand job

This will give you an accurate representation of the supply for the jobs you can get, and whether or not the demand is strong or weak.

If you find that there's a low supply and demand for your occupation, it may be time for a career change. But most likely you'll find that the economy isn't really as bad as people are making it out to be.

What are you worth?

I remember working in a warehouse when I was younger, and when I was promoted, I gained access to information about pricing and markups. What I learned that day shocked me. Every radiator sold in that warehouse had at least a 100% markup — if they bought it for $100, they sold it for $200, if it was $300, they put it on the market at $600. This was the largest radiator supplier in the area, and they undercut everyone else's prices, so I can only imagine the prices everyone else was offering.

At first I thought they were ripping people off, but as I learned more, I discovered that their profit was cut drastically by business expenses. The point is that you as an employee, are in the same boat as the radiator company. Your employer has to pay you as little as possible in order to make up for expenses and turn a profit. Unfortunately, that means giving you half of what you're worth.

There's two ways around this, which I'll go over in a moment.

To find out what you're really worth you need the proper tools.

There are a number of great places to find out salary information about your specific job and company.

Here's a few sites that have quality salary information:

By this point you've seen what's available to you job-wise, and you know what you're worth to your employer. Now you can put aside all of the faulty information you've heard and base your next decision off of the truth.

The Fork in the Road

There's now two choices set before you. You can go down the path of leverage or the road to self-employment.

The second choice is full of risk, with a high learning curve marked by seasons of uncertainty and failure. But the payoff is the potential to receive all that you're worth. If you've got a drop or two of entrepreneurial blood in you, this is the most viable option.

But job-security, a steady paycheck and lower risk has plenty of appeal to it as well. If you decide to continue to work as an employee, you'll need to learn how to use leverage to increase your pay. Remember when you used to play on the playground? On the Teeter-totter, the heaviest kids held the advantage — if you were lighter, you were completely at their mercy. If they wanted you to stay high in the sky until you begged to be let down, they could. If they wanted to play civilly like good recess citizens, they could. They held the power.

Think of your value  — to your company and to other potential employers as well —  as a weighted jogging vest; the kind we use to pretend we're hard-core then throw out when the stress fractures appear. Each time you build value; value that's clear to your bosses — it's like putting on another weighted vest.

The goal here is to keep strapping on more and more weight until you have enough leverage to tell your metaphorically-chubby bully of a boss that you've earned a raise.

And that the bosses at two other companies think the same.

It takes quality information and persistence to use the information to your advantage, but take advantage of a little job research sweat-equity. Before you know it you'll be resting comfortably on the heavy side of the leverage machine, negotiating like a boss and taking better offers as they come.