If You Don't Know Your Worth, Others Won't Either
This post is about money. EW?! Right. We all seem to hate talking about it, how to wrangle more of it, yet we're very good at complaining about it when we get screwed.
I heard a story about a friend of a friend six months ago about how she was getting shafted in her job and the company refused to pay her overtime. While I understand that's a dick move, let's look at the girl in question, because I'm curious about how she got to that point. I definitely think she had options from when she started her position but maybe fear got in the way of her asserting herself. For me, I think her options for dealing with this could be;
1. She could say my hours are x - x and I don't work outside of them
2. She could say, I can do those extra hours but they come at an additional cost
But, I really think she should have stated this prior to starting the job that way everyones expectations were on the table. It's so difficult to get people on your side after they've been using you for awhile because they think, I've been getting this for free / I've been pushing her for more and now she's arking up. The question in their minds is "Is she really worth it?" a question you never, ever wanted placed on you.
It comes down to respect at the end of the day. Respect yourself, your worth, your journey, your skills because if you don't, no one else will. No one will just say out of the blue after 6 months of employment "hey I think we should pay you more". That does not happen. It starts with you. With every one of you that gets this shit out of the way, states their worth from the get go, it has the power to elevate whatever industry you're in and it sets an improved standard for that space. If you're uncomfortable with this, I think an easier way to start is "let's start at this rate and I want to reassess in 6 weeks"- make it short, 6 weeks is enough time for them to see how you work and how you fit into the team dynamic.
I'm a designer. Which is fucked because anyone with a hack version of photoshop basically says they're a designer too. Same with photography; got an iPhone8- shit son, you should be on the cover of Nat Geo. It's such a difficult industry for many reasons. For one, our hierarchy system is utterly bullshit, it's some watered down UK version only we have no process or structure to determine how qualified or skilled someone actually is. Have you got a BA in Comms? You can be a mid weight. Only have a Cert 3- you're looking at masking out pictures of women eating salad for three years. (I'm so tired of this "must have 5 years experience" racket, as an aside, how about we go on value...?) Oh, you've worked as an intern in NY? You can be an art director. What the actual fuck. My point is, I know loads of designers who just take the junior pay for "the experience" or for the LinkedIn creds or to beef up their resume.
Do you know what happens when loads of cohorts consisting of hundreds of graduates from various universities every year take on underpaid jobs or worse, free work? The people hiring for that or the clients directly paying for that, expect to pay less with every damn year. Yet every job ad states they will take nothing less than a unicorn with five separate degrees for the cost of one junior- speaking of that, our uni fees, online courses, conferences are still costing an arm and a leg. It's just not adding up.
So I know it's all very easy for me to say "hey James, you know, you should respect yourself and charge more" while I caress your back after a heartfelt conversation about how under appreciated you feel and how that's causing synaptic seizures on the daily. Maybe you're thinking, hey Amy, you jerk, I have to take anything coming through my door currently because I'm a dollar away from bankruptcy. Sure, fine, ok, that's not ideal but make a promise to yourself that next interview you get, you'll stop being weak and shying away from those hairy, gnarly conversations about what you expect to be paid because eating tuna and rice for the next ten years sounds super lame.