Getting Paid What You’re Worth

Egyptian Exit Sign
Sometimes it’s time to EXIT

Firstly thanks to ADetailedHouse, saymber, julia christine stephen, mango.shenanigans, Kevin, Sadie Smith, lezoemusings, Nurse on the Run and Earthstonestation for the likes. I hope I didn’t forget anyone! It’s so nice to see that people actually read what I write!

Not so long ago I replied to Bryallen’s post on What is Your Time Really Worth, and today I was reminded of it because while the sun was shining today, I realised how much my life has turned around in just six weeks.

Two years ago I started a new job, and not only that, the first “real” job in two years. I was so happy.

The only downside was the *just* enough pay and the short contract (just 3mths). To cut a very long story short, the contract was renewed another 3mths until I finally succeded in pushing for a fulltime contract. I was employed! No raise, but employed. Within the year, I was on a kind of 3 day week, earning at best 70% of my ever-shrinking wage and what’s worse was, I was facing losing my job it had taken me years to get.

I was completely incapable of coming up with a new plan, life moved on while I stood around wondering what went wrong, and I found myself on the dole with even less money – which wasn’t enough to pay the rent. Luckily a friend had helped arrange that I move into her apartment which was a lot cheaper than the other one, otherwise I’d have had no savings and have been really in a pickle!

It was only when I was out of that situation and surroundings that I got the reality check and courage I needed to look for a new job.  I put together a portfolio (mostly full of unrealized projects, because the last half a year had only been pitches and work showcases that didn’t belong to me). The printing and materials cost me a whopping €300 – a quarter of a month’s wages or just shy of half my rent in the expensive apartment. I delivered all my applications by hand, dressed in my best clothes. I spent about two weeks in total doing this. Within a few days I had a phonecall for an interview.

And this is the interesting part. During the time when I found out I was definitely going to be unemployed, my boss at the time incorrectly offered me a daily rate of €150 that he calculated from “my” wages. The figure was €400 out. I was comparitively being underpaid by a very large fraction of my wages. Why? Because I’m female? Becuase I’m too shy to demand to be paid properly?

Armed with this knowledge of what my colleague(s) was/were obvioulsy being paid, this became my beginning interview negotiation figure. Some argued that I wasn’t worth it and gave me well-versed reasons as to exactly why, while… others either didn’t bat an eyelid or immediately made me a better offer.

As I went along and realised that not everyone was battling me down on pay I grew more confident. I even found that mid-interview that I would become uncharacteristically short tempered with lists of “why you’re not worth it”. On one occasion, I gathered my things, said that I wasn’t going to fight them over figures, shook their hand thanked them for their time and walked out.

It was a paradigm shift in attitude. I would no longer tolerate any attempt to undermine me or my self respect and I certainly didn’t want to repeat the mistake of the previous job where I was taken advantage of and began to recognise the warning signs. To underline my point, the boss of the company I walked out on also offered me the position, (but who would want to work for someone like that?).

I’m really proud of myself for taking, learning and coming through that hard lesson and more importantly seeing with my own eyes that there are companies who will pay you a fair wage.

This evening I was walking home in the beautiful sunshine thinking about an email I was sent twice from HR directly about an opening for a higher position and that I must transfer some savings across – and –  that this is the polar opposite of this time last year.


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