A Word About Value
The idea of value is one that I have attempted to infuse throughout this book. Your value is a central theme in the toolkit approach to career development. Understanding your value to an organization and how to increase that value is critical.
This understanding can help you model your career, actions, and focus. It can ensure that the work you do brings value to the organization that you serve. This understanding also helps you find the right type of employer. Your understanding of where an organization places value can help you determine if you and the company are a good fit—if those items, tasks, and projects that the company values match your desired career path.
This understanding of your value can also help alleviate the frustration I hear many technology professionals express in regards to compensation. I've counseled many technology professionals who complain about their low compensation. However, in speaking to them, these professionals indicate that their organization does not pay well in general.
Although salary surveys abound, they do little to help you in your current situation. You will receive the best compensation by finding an organization whose idea of what is valuable matches yours. You might be excellent at user-level automation, and you might be building great solutions for your employer; however, if their perception of the value of such solutions is low, you will remain undercompensated.
I often state that if I take the skills I've learned as an IT professional and go to work for a one-person automotive shop, I can still put many of my skills to work, but I cannot expect to be compensated in the manner I desire. Such an organization will not and cannot place a high value on what I provide.
You need to match your skills and desires with an organization that both needs and values those skills.
If you are persuasive, you might be able to help build a case for the value that you and your solutions provide. This is an excellent way to build your career within an organization, but it requires the ability both to quantify the results and tie them to the business case for the organization.
As you read through the ideas in the sections that follow, keep in mind your own career, and evaluate steps you can take to improve your value in your organization.