Prove you are worth the most, not the cheapest

I enjoy being a highly overpaid actor. (Roger Moore)

There’s always someone who is paid too much, and taxed too little – and it’s always someone else.  (Cullen Hightower)

“I am earning $115,000 per year. But I don’t want to be a food scientist anymore.  I want to be a Java programmer.  I’d like to earn about the same salary, but I’d consider less.  Maybe $80,000 per year.  I also want to move to Pennsylvania.  I don’t like Texas. I almost got a PhD degree so I am sure someone will want me. Can you find me a job?”

At that time Java programmers with 2 years experience were earning $60,000 per year. He had no Java experience.  He was studying it.  His goal was to get certified and then move to his new career.  His degree was unrelated to programming. Dropping from $115,000 per year to $80,000 per year seemed to him to be a sure way to interest an employer.  I had to let him know that he wasn’t worth anywhere near that as a programmer.

His problem was that he wanted to be hired at top dollar before he had a track record. And, yes, he did get hired.  Just not at those terms.  He bowed to reality.

No employer can stay in business when he overpays his employees. If his expenses are high, he has to charge more.  Then his competitors take all his customers away. No customers, no business, no jobs.

In order to be hired you have to be the best bargain of all the people who apply.  You need to have proof that you will do more excellent work for less money than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to be the lowest paid.  You have to be the best bargain.

A great salesperson will earn three times what a mediocre one earns.  Yet, everyone wants the great salesperson and will pay for them.  You may pay them three times as much, but they bring in 10 times the profit.  That’s because high volume cuts your overhead costs.  Great salesmen are worth a lot more. Did you notice the ugly fact that great salesmen are worth 10 times more, but are only paid 3 times more?

What about network technicians?  If you can improve computer response time by ½ second per entry by 1000 clerks, you can save $100,000 per year for your company.  If you can keep the computers of 1000 clerks from going down for 10 minutes each week, you are saving the company 166 man hours per week.  That will allow them to save the wages of 4 clerks. A great network technician is worth much more than the one who allows network problems to continue.  The ugly fact is that a great network technician is only paid 2 or 3 times what a barely acceptable one is paid, yet his contribution is 10 times greater.

You need to document what makes you great.  Present it to your boss when you do it.  When you are looking for a job, put dollars produced and saved in your resume.  If you prove you are worth more than you are being paid, there will be less resistance to paying you more.  Prove you are worth ten times more, then accept wages two or three times higher.  It’s ugly, but that’s the way it works.

Tomorrow’s topic is “Why?”

Something To Do Today

Think about your job search. Just think.  And then take notes about your conclusions.


For 2 weeks: Zen and the art of getting a job

Next:     A man dying of thirst

Later:              Perception is everything

Character counts

Diamonds in the rough

Cleat marks up your back

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