A reader who’s been shortchanging their potential has an epiphany in the June 23, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.
You get a lot of questions. I thought you might enjoy an answer I discovered.
I finally ironed out the details of my new job and my relocation (very generous and I really expected nothing). During my morning shower, I had this fleeting thought, “Wow. They are really paying too much for me to take this job. With benefits like moving expenses, closing costs, salary and bonus, I am really being paid way too much for this job. I would have taken it for a lot less.”
Then I stopped and chided myself for these negative thoughts.
Obviously, I realized, I must be filling some need that they are willing to pay me this much for. And, I thought to myself, I am very good at what I do, I know the company, know the people and I know I will do a great job in this position.
Of course, I am sure there are cases where people are paid far more than they are worth for a job. But I realized this morning, really for the first time, how much I have shortchanged myself over the years by thinking things like:
- “Oh, I don’t think I could do that job,” or
- “They wouldn’t want someone with my background for that,” or
- “I know they wouldn’t be able to meet my salary for that position.”
I realized this morning that I have really been selling myself short in a lot of ways in my career, rather than “reaching for the brass ring,” and extending myself a bit farther to achieve more.
Now I know that the first step in looking for a better position is valuing yourself and what you can really do for an employer, regardless of your job history and industry background. Today I stopped shortchanging myself. The answer to my own doubts is that undervaluing myself is a mistake. I hope I never make it again.
The Question in this column doesn’t always have to be a question! Your story is one of the most eloquent, wonderful expressions of newfound career wisdom I’ve ever read. And we could end this column right there. It’s enough to prompt discussion all by itself.
Becoming suddenly aware of how you’ve been shortchanging yourself and your potential is the kind of “Aha!” experience that will make others start thinking, too. That makes this epiphany as important as the questions I answer in this column. Thanks for sharing it.
I’ve experienced the kind of misgivings you have, and I’m sure many others have, too. We all doubt our worth sometimes. The three examples of shortchanging yourself that you shared are the kinds of doubts that stop us dead in our tracks. Rather than ask ourselves, “Why YES?”, we say “NO, but I don’t know why!” — perhaps because it’s easier!
For some people, self-doubt can be a serious problem called impostor syndrome. Most of the time it’s a passing worry that we overcome by recognizing and enjoying our achievements. Sometimes it’s debilitating and leads to needless failure.
While criticism and disparaging remarks from others can spark a crisis of self-confidence, we tend to doubt compliments and praise. Sometimes praise is casual and perfunctory; sometimes it’s genuine and well-deserved, like the exceptional job offer you received.
The best praise is our own honest judgment of ourselves that’s based on solid facts and success. I think your job-offer success is quite solid!
Shortchanging your potential
Every time someone asks me, How much money should I ask for? or, What am I worth?, I want to say to them, You’re shortchanging your potential! Don’t get stuck on what you’ve done. Plan what you can do by realizing your potential. That’s your worth.
People who acknowledge their potential know what they are worth. They have a power that surpasses the greatest negotiation skills. Their self-confidence is anchored in self-knowledge — knowledge of their skills and ability to create, fix or improve something, and to recognize opportunities they can capitalize on. That’s what the employer discovered about you. Now you see your potential, and that the money follows.
Potential value = more money
Once you accept your potential value, it’s easier to express it in terms of what another person (or business) needs – and that gets you more money. (For another approach to how to judge your own value please see The Cardinal Rules of Worth.)
Someone values you enough to pay you more, and now you know you deserve it. You’ll never be the same again for this realization. It will spur you to deliver even more value because now you know your value doesn’t depend on your credentials or on your history. It depends on what you can do. And that’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing your epiphany!
Do you shortchange yourself? How do you calculate your worth — and then express it to get a better job offer? What metrics can we apply, other than a resume, credentials and experience? (Or is that all of it?)