Recently, I attended one of Agnes Scott College Career Development’s “Adulting 101” sessions where they spoke about negotiating a salary with your employer. In this virtual session, they mention the importance of knowing your worth when thinking of your desired salary for a certain position. As someone who was not always sure of myself when it comes to what I could offer a company, I thought it would be great to share the tips I got from the school and my own tips that help me when seeking internships.
- Determine your value
The first tip that they shared with us was to make value statements. Take the time out to write your skills, accomplishments, and the results you helped produce in your area of interest. This includes both soft skills (communication, relationship building, etc.) and hard skills (languages you speak, internet software you have experience using, etc.) and examples of you putting them to use. By seeing everything that you can bring to a company, you may notice that you have more skills than you once thought and will get a higher sense of self-worth in the job market.
- What are they looking for in a candidate?
Another tip they mentioned is to consider the company’s needs. Go through the job description and look for their education and experience requirements. If you find that you meet the majority of them, you will most likely rank higher as an ideal candidate, which increases your value to the company. As you write your cover letter or prepare for the interview, write out a statement that explains what you can do for them. It also helps to visit their websites and social media pages for more information about the company so you can prove that you took the time to do research and are confident in what you can bring to the table.
- It’s more than OK to say “no”
One tip that I would add is to get comfortable with saying “no.” You do not have to settle for the first company that is interested in hiring you. If you decide that you don’t want the job whether it be the salary, work environment, or job description, you can always turn them down. I typically do this in my “thank you” email after an interview. I thank them for meeting with me, then state that I am no longer interested. Practicing saying “no” will allow you to remember your worth and focus on what you’re looking for, rather than what satisfies others.
- Is this job right for you?
My last tip would be to understand why you feel/felt exploited or underappreciated at a certain position. While unpaid internships are a great way to start your career and further develop skills that you may need, there does come a point where you have to ask yourself: am I at a place where I can do the work of an employee, but not be compensated as one? If you start to feel that your rewards or benefits do not match your labor, that lets you know that your sense of self-worth is elevating.
Remember that there is a reason why you were interested in a job. You would not consider a job if you did not believe that you were a great fit. There will be many rejected applications– ask anyone and they’ll tell you– but never settle or give up. You’re worth more than that.