I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing career opportunities, from being able to lead various teams, move around the country to different states, and drive some very significant results for large global companies. But I will tell you that as a daughter of a single teenage mother and being the first person in my family to graduate college, I didn’t always have a certain level of confidence in my career.
When I started in my career, I would be sooo nervous on interviews. Yes, I looked good on the outside – I was polished and ready for the interview but I always wondered, “Was I enough? Were my skills enough?”
As I look back over my life, I realized that I operated that way because I really was afraid. Afraid of being told no, afraid of being perceived negatively by people that I didn’t know if I had anything in common with or could relate to. I also didn’t have much confidence about the value of my skills and I definitely didn’t know how to ask for or what I should be compensated and paid for my skills.
As I’ve talked to different women at various stages of their career, of various races, from around the globe, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Many of us have, or continue to struggle with fear, not knowing how to define our worth in our careers and being afraid to ask for want we really want.
This struggle presents a real challenge because when we operate in fear, or when we don’t know how to ask for our worth, we leave millions of dollars of potential income on the table throughout the course of our career. The stats are real – Google it. Each time we walk away in fear without asking, we are getting up from the table essentially saying, “I’m going to take a pass on getting what I deserve.”
Here’s the unfortunate reality: when you get up from the table, somebody else sits down and asks for the money you left on the table – and they’re getting it. And chances are, they are no more qualified than you.
Have you ever wondered, or found out, that you’re making less than someone doing the same job?
It happens time and time again. We all know that income is directly related to quality of life. So, when you don’t ask for more money and consequently you don’t get it, the things that you could do in your life for yourself or your family, will be impacted.
The Mindset that Helps Change it All
In order to make the shift and start asking for “more”, you have to believe and know that you are worth it. When I say “it,” I mean whatever “it” is that’s important to you in your career, whether it be a promotion, the new job, or an increase in salary.
That might sound simple enough – but is it really? If it were, we’d all be doing it. But the reality is that I often talk with women who are afraid to “ask” – we assume the answer is no already, don’t want to appear too greedy, or seem too difficult.
Imposter syndrome, or the tendency to doubt your adequacy, is real for many women (and men), and can impact our ability to see our inherent value, despite our external signs of success.
Interestingly enough, I was having a conversation with a female HR representative a few years ago who mentioned that as she was presenting offers to female candidates, a number of them were coming back with a request for a salary increase.
Their responses varied but the theme was the same: “I need to protect my quality of life.” The HR representative candidly shared her thoughts and said, “I really respect these women for doing that – I wish I’d done the same when I got my offer.”
Asking for what you want should be YOUR norm! Why? Because when you recognize that you are worth “it”, the game changes! You walk into rooms with more confidence, and you negotiate with more confidence because you begin to adopt this mindset:
“The time, money, and education that I’ve invested in to develop my skills means that I am going to be a value-add to whatever organization I decide to be a part of. I need to be recognized and compensated accordingly.”
It no longer becomes a one-sided benefit. You’re no longer just happy they gave you the job. You realize that they too are lucky to have you, and that makes you more confident to ask for what you know that you’re worth.
You can’t afford not to ask for what you know your worth in your career. The truth of the matter is that your dreams, your life, and your legacy are depending on you to recognize your value and command it.
Velera Wilson is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps ambitious women lead with confidence in their career, relationships, and everyday life. Her next book will be released Fall 2020 – learn more, get exclusive sneak peeks and updates by joining her VIP Book Tribe here.