In my last corporate job, where I worked for 3.5 years, my boss and I were the dynamic duo of a two-person department. We really kicked ass, if I do say so myself. We earned no commission because we weren’t sales people, but we added great value to the products the sales people were selling, in addition to creating new products for them to sell. Management was so pleased with us that they kept piling on more and more things they wanted us to do.
One day, we were venting to the Marketing Manager about how we could barely handle the workload anymore, never mind taking on new projects as well as absorbing functions of other departments.
I’ll never forget what she said: “I know, I’m sorry, it sucks. But you know how it is, ya find a good horse and ride it.”
Meaning management found two good horses, me and my boss, and rode us hard.
I didn’t like being compared to a horse. Especially a horse earning no commission for work that was earning the company lots of money. I felt like I was being used so people more important than me could win.
These years were during “The Great Recession”, though, and all salaries had been frozen for two years. But I was stupid. I should have demanded that my boss and I be able to earn commission from sales or, at least, special bonuses.
Instead, my boss and I continued earning no commission, yet were key figures in ensuring that our company was one of the rare few thriving in that crappy economy. What happened next? Our parent company sold us to another company, and most of us were laid off, myself included.
Moral of the story: do not settle for less than you know you are worth. Sure, in the first few post-grad years, you’ll be at the bottom of the ladder in any company. But when you start making your mark, don’t be shy about demanding your worth. It’s managements job to get as much productivity from you for the least amount they can pay you. But good managers also know when it’s worth their while to pony up a little extra cash for people who are really worth it.
One final note: As I’m sure you know, the pay gap between men and women working the same job is a persistent problem in America. I read a very interesting article years ago that studied a very important, yet rarely mentioned aspect of this discrepancy. Men, far more frequently than women, demand better raises and bonuses for their contributions. Women are far more likely to take a crappy raise and deal with it.
So “be a man”. Demand your worth.
My name is Suzanne Jacobetz, aka The Cursing Gourmet, and I am Bridget’s older (not necessarily wiser) cousin. I’m Generation X all the way and do not enjoy it when I hear 80s/90s rock on classic rock stations. I live in the mountains in Colorado with Mike, my husband of 10 years, 15+ miles from a grocery store. It’s a very quiet, peaceful life, or at least it used to be: a year ago we had our first kiddo, a sweetie pie named Isabelle ❤️