I remember when I would go to interviews and be asked all sorts of awkward questions that usually made me feel uncomfortable.
One of the MOST awkward questions was “How much do you think you’re worth?”
This is especially difficult when coming out of college, and you truly have no idea.
Sure you may think you’re worth something, but what do you have to back it up with? What proof do you have? Usually, you don’t, and you have to go off what your last paycheck was and the awesome things your mom always told you.
Unfortunately, neither of these things show without a doubt your true value, so the ball is in your future employer’s hands what HE / SHE thinks you’re worth.
And how do you even debate it? Chances are you just agree to the low terms they’re providing and you’re now stuck in a job that is barely over the pay grade of your last job. Or it’s entry level, at a ridiculous amount of money per hour.
Since I owned my own restaurants throughout my twenties, I still had a problem interviewing after they closed because it’s tough to justify the payments you made for yourself as social proof that you’re worth the wage. Especially if your business isn’t doing that awesome. After all, if the business was doing awesome, you wouldn’t be looking for a job. And they know this.
There was one job, in particular, that I got after running my own restaurants for 10 years. The employer liked me but he knew I needed money and knew he could get me on the cheap. So I agreed to a 50k/ year position, even though it was a pay cut from the restaurant days. PLUS I had to pay normal taxes on this amount, so at the end of the day, I was bringing home almost half of what I was accustomed to.
This sucked because this was now the number I would now bargain with on my next interview if I decided to pursue the avenue of employment.
Thank GOD I DID NOT.
One of the most amazing things I’ve been able to produce with Upwork is social proof of my value.
I’ve talked about social proof in the blog before because it’s such a powerful tool. Having this power conclusively determines my value and proves that my value is only growing.
This has been the absolute BEST sales tactic I have.
When I started on Upwork, I hovered around the $45/ hour mark and built up enough proof that I was at least worth that amount.
These are done by the reviews and people telling the public that your time is worth that value.
I gave myself a raise because two things happen….
1. I learned more and collected experience
2. I was using my most valuable resource… TIME.
And since TIME is a fixed finite resource, you must consider a supply and demand curve when deciding on value.
Obviously, if people DON’T think your time is worth the amount, this will not work. But if you’re continuously making people happy it most certainly will.
And because of this, I’ve increased my value and given myself raises almost every month for the last 3 years.
Now I’m at $295 / hour.
Now, why would anyone ever consider $295 / hour for someone that they could probably find MUCH cheaper?
It’s because of social proof.
Everyone knows I’m going to bust my ass to get shit done, and I will NEVER leave anyone hanging. All of their misconceptions are answered by the praise of others and very rarely do I have to toot my own horn. In fact, this is 180 degrees from my approach.
Often, I’m telling people that there are cheaper people out there that can do what I do, and this honestly makes them want me more. If you’re constantly trying to justify your value, you’re doing it all wrong, and chances are you don’t have the social proof to eliminate fears that the client may have.
Now back to the subject of quantifying your worth….
Since Upwork has provided me a platform to quantify the value of my time, I can now leverage that for any future employment or consulting gig I ever take on. Why would I EVER accept an offer that doesn’t line up with my proven value? It wouldn’t even make sense for an employer to offer me something less than what he can easily see I’m worth. He knows he would just be wasting my time — which is probably worth more than his own at this point. At least according to the numbers. Bam.
I’d love to hear from you what you think you’re worth and why you think you’re worth it. It’s one of the toughest things for anyone to do in a serious way in my experience. I think the easiest answer is “because people think that’s what it’s worth”.