In the United States, yesterday was Labor Day. This day observes those American works that advocated for labor law improvements that established guidelines for ethical, reasonable work and that opened the way for safer work environments, fair(er) pay and better work schedules. While the state of US labor still has much room for improvement, this holiday recognizes the workers that paved the way for better work for all.
As I reflect on Labor Day, I think of how those early advocates would be both delighted and dismayed by the current state of work here in the US. I also thought about individuals within the workforce, and how they can position themselves to make the most of their careers and the experiences afforded to them by virtue of their professions. Here are three ways that we (because I’m still an employee, too!) can make the most of our time as employees:
Explore and take advantage of employee benefits. Free or lowered price training, various insurances, shopping discounts, access to restricted spaces and exclusive events: find out all of the benefits available to you from your employer. Then take advantage of every program, benefit, and perk that you can. If these perks can be enjoyed on the clock, even better!
Network like crazy while you’re there. Wherever you work, remember that you are less than six degrees from people that can assist you with your goals. So meet as many people as you can, and add these individuals to your network. The thought that a person should only go to work and refuse to develop networks within their sphere of influence is antiquated and limiting. Many people that hold this perspective will also complain about job stagnancy and air their frustrations over how better networkers get certain promotions and advantages within the workplace. Your dream role may be just one crucial contact away from where you are right now. Learn to network so that you can tap into all of the opportunities just beyond your reach.
Do a skills audit so you can quantify what you learned and make moves based on your skill set. Examine the skills you’ve gained on the job, and determine which ones would qualify you for a better position (spoiler alert: ALL skills have the potential to qualify you for something better). If you struggle with identifying and enhancing your skills, you can get a skills audit done by me. I offer this audit so that, instead of feeling overwhelmed or disempowered, you can devise a plan of action that moves you confidently toward the career of your dreams! As employees, most of us are more talented, skilled, and desirable than we know. The skills we have are often downplayed by us (as an attempt to display humility) or others (part of getting us to accept less than we deserve). If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, or what you bring to the job market, contact me: I can help you pinpoint your talents and tell you how to leverage them to your advantage.
Those are my top tips for getting the most out of your current job. What are some of your tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Hi friends! I have a little bit of a surprise coming in a couple of days, but before I can unveil that, I have to cover a topic that I know has been on a lot of minds, and that seems to be discussed more and more in public forums as the economy goes through its ups and downs.
Many of us work hard, do a good job, and yet we still don’t seem to earn enough money. This is a problem that I had personally for years, until I made some crucial changes that helped me to turn this around (more about those changes in a minute). There are at least five common reasons why we don’t earn enough money, and I’d like to discuss these with you, as well as point you in the direction of some support for turning these reasons around.
We didn’t do skill audits when needed. A skill audit is a deep dive into our knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs, for those that are familiar with federal job terminology). Listing our skills then having a deep appreciation for what we’ve mastered is critical to understanding our worth in tangible measurements. Without this knowing, it’s nearly impossible to be adequately compensated for our work. After all, if we aren’t clear about our value, how can we appropriately price our labor when interacting with clients and employers?
We undervalued our skills. Even when we’re crystal clear about what’s in our skill set, we can still under-price ourselves. Many of us believe that timidity, and being the “lowest bidder”, will ensure that we get the clients or the jobs that we want. And it’s true that doing this may get us jobs and clients, however . . . We often find that undervaluing our labor means that we work harder, get burned out faster, and earn less over time. Please don’t let the current conversations about the desperation in the job market discourage you: there are enough positions available at every income level to satisfy your earning desires, and you don’t have to undervalue yourself just to secure employment.
We have outdated money beliefs. Once upon a time, we believed that telecommuting and virtual work environments were only available to the few lucky people that happened to stumble upon progressive employers. Then 2020 happened, and we found out that a lot of employers that previously found telework to be “infeasible” and “unsustainable” could now operate with 100% virtual teams. I mention this example to illustrate that our money beliefs should be constantly shifting because our realities are always transforming. For that reason, we have to ask ourselves honestly whether we believe that we can actually earn more, that employers and clients are willing to pay what we ask, and that there are environments that will support the kind of work we wish to do. Only after considering these things can we remove this block in our earning potential.
We accepted principle over profit. This is probably the only reason that may remain even after going through the other points. Sometimes, we choose work that is underpaid but rewarding (education and farming are two fields that come to mind immediately) because we’ve decided that the emotional rewards outweigh the financial gain. It is possible to have abundant income and deeply purposeful work all wrapped in one, but if our main motivation is principle, we may not seek out more lucrative opportunities. The goal should always be adequate or abundant income, coming from meaningful work. We should never have to choose between the two and, if our financial gain means that we have to compromise our values, then the opportunity isn’t worth it.
We’re paralyzed by fear. This is probably the biggest one, because it’s the only thing that requires constant monitoring and addressing issues as they arise. It’s also the only point that can’t be easily corrected by introducing objective information. Our fears can convince us of monsters in teh shadows and can keep us from taking leaps of faith. However, it’s key to note that we are always larger than our fears, and we can always choose to be brave. Our future selves require us to be courageous and take one step forward, then another, even when we don’t know exactly where it will lead us.
I’ve personally gone through each of these reasons for underearning. I didn’t understand the breadth of my skillset, I did work where I was grossly underpaid, I believed that my dream salary wasn’t possible due to XYZ (insert lots of detrimental thinking here), I engaged in meaningful work that didn’t pay much, and I’ve been so scared that I wouldn’t even apply to certain jobs. I’ve tackled each of them one by one, in order to dismantle my money blocks and earn more money than ever. Now my work is simultaneously interesting, full of purpose, and well paid. I also got to tap into one of my core values – flexibility – since I now have a position where I can choose my work schedule based on my needs.
I’m here for you all if you need help with reason #1 – identifying your current skill set. I am currently offering a skills audit package on my Services page, so you can see my approach to quantifying your KSAs. It includes a telephone/zoom conversation with me, as well as a beautifully formatted document that you can use when seeking new earning opportunities, and you can customize it as you add new skills to your toolkit. It’s perfect for helping you get clear on your depth of expertise and how to position yourself to earn what you want and deserve. The skills audit will also help you overcome any of the five reasons that may be blocking you from earning more money, as well as any skills gaps, and recommend how to address these gaps in the most affordable and efficient way.
Those are my top five reasons why we may not be earning enough money. Look out for more insights in upcoming posts! Take care.