March / April 2020

Young Professional Editorial: Know Your Worth

LeAnna M. Pearson
LeAnna Pearson Marcum is a Senior Project Manager at PharmEng Technology and the 2019–2020 ISPE International Young Professionals Chair

I recently had dinner with a friend and colleague who was looking at taking on a new job role. She asked me what I thought about her salary request as part of this new opportunity. I asked, “Is that what you think you are worth?” She looked very confused by my response, and I realized that many of us do not often step back and determine our business value.

For many people, talking about salary is taboo, and this is a delicate subject that should be approached with care and respect. However, it is smart to discuss your salary with appropriate individuals or look at market research. If we know our own value, could we negotiate for more? Not just more money, but more opportunity to grow? How does one navigate this tactfully?

Step 1: Know What You Do

Create a list of all your work activities, and then compare the list to your current job description. You might be doing more in one area but realize that you are neglecting another, or you could find that you are going far beyond your job role. I learned this early in my career: I like to help others, so this means that I often work outside of my job role. Talk with coworkers about what you are doing, as sometimes they can provide some additional insight.

Step 2: Understand What You Do Not Know

Understanding where you need to develop is a huge part of understanding your value. Admitting when you do not know something and seeking out the knowledge to fill that gap shows a great deal of self-acknowledgement and emotional intelligence. You can also loop this back to Step 1: if you are missing skills in an area of your job description, research ways to fill those gaps.

Step 3: Do Your Research

Your list of responsibilities will make it easier to compare your job to others in the marketplace to know what others in similar roles are doing and how they are compensated. Use the list of your job responsibilities to compare your position with other roles’ responsibilities and compensation. Be sure the site you use is a reputable one.

Step 4: Present Your Case

I will often review my case with a trusted peer or colleague before I talk with my bosses. Make sure that you are clear on what your needs are and why. For example: “I have looked at my job description and feel like I am ready to move to the next level. Can we please discuss your thoughts on this and what that pathway looks like?”

Make sure that you are clear on what your needs are and why.

You should not go in with demands; instead, bring data to demonstrate your worth and understand that you might not get everything you ask for. After your meeting, determine if you are in a position and company where you can grow.

Step 5: Fulfillment and Excitement

Once you have determined your worth and presented your case, you will know your path within your company. There is no answer that is right or wrong, but you should always ensure that the work you do makes you feel valued and challenges you. When you do not feel fulfilled or excited by a position or a company, your growth will slow as you will feel less engaged and your desire to push further will diminish.

At the end of the day, you determine your self-worth by knowing your value and how you bring that value to your company and role. As Malcolm X said, “We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”