I was a young and naive 20-something, trying to land my first “real” job after graduating from school for fashion design. I was also a single mom with a toddler trying to support our little family of two.
After nervously interviewing at several companies for design assistant positions, I got the call I was eagerly anticipating — one of the companies offered me the job. I was psyched. I had just moved back to New York after living in Florida for a few years and getting a job was the final piece to settling in. I prepared myself for my new job by mapping my commute into the city and figuring out my childcare arrangement.
After some anxious waiting, my first day finally came, and right away, I knew I would love the job. During those first few weeks, I eagerly performed my assistant duties while trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible from those whom I was assisting.
Everything Was Great, Until …
As each day passed, I grew to love my job more and more. I approached it with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, performing the tasks I was asked to, but also going beyond what was expected. Everything was going well. The higher-ups were pleased with me, and I was pleased with the job. It was all rolling along smoothly — until I received another call.
One of the other companies I had previously interviewed with offered me a job. The position was essentially the same, but the salary was a few thousand dollars higher than what I was making — more than a ten percent increase. Ugh, what a dilemma. I was happy with the job I already had, but I needed the money. The few thousand dollars made a significant difference to me at the time.
So, I did what I think most people would do in my situation — I accepted the new offer.
Two Weeks’ Notice After Just a Few Weeks on the Job
I nervously typed up and submitted my two weeks’ notice after being on the job for just a few weeks. I felt like a flake, but I was doing what I needed to do. My boss, of course, was confused and questioned me about my decision. I was upfront and told her exactly how much the new position was paying.
By the end of the day, she approached me and asked if I would stay if they matched the new offer. Wow! I did not expect that. My naive, “this is my first real job” self didn’t think that a company would be willing to give me more money after just a few weeks on the job.
In hindsight though, even though I wasn’t in the position long, I had proven my worth. By excelling at my role and exceeding expectations, I made it hard for my employer to let me leave over what was, to them, just a few thousand dollars. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had created leverage for myself.
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Know Your Worth
Companies don’t make a habit of dishing out 10 percent salary increases during an employee’s first month, but they also don’t want to spend resources on hiring repeatedly. It was as much to their advantage as it was mine to increase my pay to keep me. But if I had performed my job poorly, or even ho-hum, the increase probably wouldn’t have happened. I showed my value in the short time I was there.
So, the moral of the story? Seek ways to provide value in all you do — not just in your career, but in all things. Know your worth. Know your awesomeness. And know when you can and should use it to your advantage.
That was the very first lesson for me in the power and importance of knowing my worth, but one that I have been able to use repeatedly since.
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