One of the things I struggled with the most at the start of my career, was having the conversation about money. How much they would pay me. When should I bring it up? What if they asked me how much I wanted?

As my career grew, it didn’t get easier, until I learned to share what I was worth vs. placing so much emphasis on the dollar amount.

It still isn’t the easiest thing for me to talk about because my thoughts often get in my way. I personally struggle with openly talking about money. But I have come to find ways to make it easier. And the biggest tip I can share with you now as you are launching your career, is to learn to lead with value.

Rather than focusing on the income amount, learn how to showcase yourself in a way that reflects your value. The more value you can demonstrate and prove, the more you are worth.

Pause to think of this another way.

Why does purchasing a Tesla cost more than purchase a Kia?

The Kia, although sporting a cool style, doesn’t compare to the style and luxury factor of the Tesla. It can’t do the all the things a Tesla can do, like run on power instead of fuel, and self-driving. Nor can it compete in the comfort factor for the interior or the symbolic influence it has upon your reputation when you pull up in a Tesla.

For all these factors and many more, someone is willing to pay more (a lot more) for a Tesla than for a Kia. Yet both will get you to your destination. And in many cases, you will drive them about the same (same speed and use) because of the limitations of your daily commute.

Yet the end result, how you felt in one vs. the other. Will be different.

Now bring this example back to marketing with me.

I once had an entry level employee work in the interim for someone during maternity leave. This woman was able to do the work and she did nice work, but she did require guidance and direction to get the job done. Not excessively so, but more than I would like. I wanted to be able to give a task and know that she could brainstorm an idea on her and produce the product in a timely manner after approval.

When we had the opportunity to move her out of the interim position and go back to someone with more experience, the improvement in productivity and quality went up. The job still got done but with less hassle on my end. It was done faster because the person was more experienced. And it was done with better quality. This was the Tesla vs. the Kia.

Both could get us to the end destination but the result was different.

That’s why I stress that you focus on the value you will bring. Help a hiring manager see from your interview how you will be able to make an impact. Give them confidence in your skills so they know what kind of responsibility you will be. Are you someone who has yet to master project management or even use a project management tool? Then that is a warning sign to them that they will have to take more time (at least in the beginning) training you on how to take action and keep up with your tasks as a part of the team. Usually the larger the team, the more people you have to integrate with and project management becomes a big deal.

When you talk about your skills do so by showing off samples of past projects. Explain how you created them. Discuss your workflow. Highlight and stress your areas of strength.

All of this effort in how you present yourself – speaks to the value you bring.

It helps to set the stage for the price you are worth.

Now in the beginning of your career I know you have a different price range than someone like me 19 years in to my career. But I still have to present my value and express my price all the time. I work with clients so I take on new people regularly. I have to sell myself in the presentation in such a way that when we get to talking about price they realize how much I am delivering for the amount I charge.

I want prospective employers to be so blown away by what you can do – even if it’s just in one speciality focus – that they are willing to pay top dollar to have you as a part of their team.

Will presenting this way guarantee top dollar?

No. But it will help.

But there are times that a company is tied into a set salary and you have to take it or leave it.

I once took a job where this was the first time this company had ever hired someone full time in this position. They had met with the board and the board had approved a certain rate for this spot. The hiring manager could not negotiate beyond this salary point. I had to take it or leave it if I wanted the job.

So in those cases, there may be no room for negotiations but you have to know if that rate is acceptable in your mind. Thankfully, in that case, the price offered was within my acceptable range. I had written in my notebook before the interview my salary expectations based on various factors. Once I knew how the position played out, how much time I would be working and the other benefits I would receive, I knew I was on target with this salary rate.

If you haven’t discovered yet, I imagine you will soon enough, that as important as money is to maintaining your life and needs, your salary is just one factor of your job negotiations.

There are other things, some more important than the money itself, that determine the value of that position and if you want it. This is one of the exercise we do inside of Marketing Launch Society, is to help our members look at the big picture of a position. Does it meet the needs of their life in the terms of benefits, time outside of work, commuting time, location, etc.

You can listen to the episode from Nov. 28th entitled “Create the future you want by defining your non-negotiables” to get some perspective on this activity. It’s a really mindful way of looking at your work and making sure from early in your career you set boundaries and expectations for your work that bring you the best life possible.

As you’ve thought through this conversation on presenting with value, I hope it has shown you how developing your skill set is the most vital thing you can be working on right now. 100% focus in how you can strengthen you value offering and in the end you will come out on top. You will quickly rise above the competition when you have exceptional skills that bring value to an employer. You will receive better salary and benefit offers as a result. And you will find greater satisfaction in your career.

It all comes back to the skills you have. So focus on developing those. More than you worry about your GPA. I know that is going to be hard for some of you. But outside of college, your GPA matters very little. No one has asked for it on my application. No one has asked about in an interview. Who knows, maybe it’s one of those things it’s not even legal to ask about – like your age or marital status.

I cannot say it enough, all employers are seeking from you is your skills. Not how well you can write a 10 page term paper. Your skills. Not what your GPA is. Just your skills!

If you need help, I will point you the one source, the only source I know for moving your from being a marketing major to being an exceptional, marketing employee – and that is Marketing Launch Society. Created exclusively for you the marketing major to help you develop and become the most amazing marketing professional who rises above the competition by focusing on your skill advantage.

Wishing you all the best for your marketing success.

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