Are You Really Worth What You Think You Are?

Determining your worth may not be as straightforward as you think…

A significant pool of candidates that we meet often have one burning question that they will inevitably ask – what should my salary expectations be?

In today’s market, candidates would place a number as to how much they are worth based on their educational certifications, as opposed to the actual value they may bring to a potential company. This is especially true for fresh graduates. But, are they mistaken to assume that their degrees command such an asking price?

Times have changed; in an era ubiquitous with underemployment, the days where a degree would most definitely secure you a management role is a thing of the past.  In a previous post we discussed whether companies are attractive enough to entice talents, the reciprocal discussion, which will be explored here, is – are you really worth what you think you are?

Determining one’s worth is no easy task. As mentioned earlier, educational certification is just one of several factors that contribute to the salary of a candidate. The skills that a candidate has amassed through work experience, the particular industry or niche that he/she may be in, or the type of company he/she would want to work in are equally important determinants to the final number a candidate may potentially sign in his remuneration package.

Market Rates Over Individual Skills

Many organisations determine salaries by taking a benchmarking approach. This means that a particular position will be compared against similar positions within the industry, and depending on how the company wants to position itself in the market and its definition of critical talent, the company may offer a particular candidate anywhere within, higher, or lower than the range. So the question remains: how are you, as candidates, able to negotiate with potential employers to go above and beyond the market rate?

Unique Skills

If you are merely just another candidate with a generic set of skills and nothing to set you apart, most likely, you will command something within the market rate. However, if the skillset that you possess is unique, in a highly niche industry where there is great demand for such roles, you might just be in luck. Generally, due to the digital revolution, technology and social-media related skillsets are in high demand. For example in Singapore, one such role would be in User Experience (UX). In this increasingly competitive market, senior level UX designers are far and few in between, and thus, their unique skills are highly sought after.


Further to the point above, the particular industry that a candidate intends to find employment in is also a big determinant. Certain roles correlate to specific industries. For example, a nurse will naturally be in the healthcare industry. However, other roles, such as those in finance or marketing, have overarching positions across multiple industries. It would be sensible then, to pick an industry that has high demand for such positions. Healthcare has since been singled out as the industry with the highest demand for both US and UK workers..

More often than not, candidates will find a stark disparity between what they think they can command, and the amount that they are actually offered. However, if the measure of worth is taken beyond just the monetary aspects of an offer, then perhaps it would be a more appropriate indicator.

Aligning of Values

The best way a candidate can really get beyond the monetary aspect of working for a company is through aligning his/her personal values with a potential employer. Certain values that are important – especially for Millennials – include employee satisfaction, creating an impact, opportunities for mentorship, skills acquisition and co-leadership. Through understanding your personal values first, you can then determine the type of company that aligns closely with what you believe in, be it as part of a startup, or in large corporations or MNCs (Multinational corporation). Working in a startup as opposed to an MNC is significantly different, and deciding on one over the other requires you to weigh the pros and cons of each. Startups can offer its employees plenty of intrinsic satisfaction, whereas joining an MNC may provide much desired structure and work-life balance.

Further to that, as the world gets more globalised, overseas opportunities are getting increasingly more common. Being able to add this to your CV often displays a high level of soft skills, particularly in terms of adaptability. However, before you jump onboard, do bear in mind the economies of scale – there will clearly be wage disparities between a first world economy versus a developing nation. In other words, if you’re based in London (for example) and looking to escape the weather for more tropical climes like in Thailand, you cannot be expecting the same dollar for dollar value in terms of wages.

Determining your worth may not be as straightforward as you think. The numbers pegged on your back, influenced by the market and other factors, may not be conclusive to the actual value you bring to a company. Instead, start defining your worth by truly understanding your values, and looking beyond the monetary aspects of what a company can offer you.

If you would like to explore our 2017 salary surveys to see what global digital salaries look like, please view them here:

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