How You Can Increase Your Value to an Employer (Hat Tip: “Sex and the City”)

Did any of you see the article about E! host Catt Sadler leaving her job after discovering her co-host was making almost twice as much? Did you see that Debra Messing, Reece Witherspoon and Eva Longoria called E! out on The Golden Globes? I sure did—and I was mad. Catt seems super lovely, and I’m all about supporting other women. I went with my knee-jerk reaction that it must be sexism, agism, or any other kind of “ism” I could think of. Catt is forty-three, and Jason thirty-six. Catt is a woman, and Jason a man. They were hired around the same time and did essentially the same job for twelve years. Those are the facts, and my brain went straight into righteous indignation!

I did what many of us do and posted my outrage on Facebook. I received comments and even a few texts. Some agreed with me and, interestingly enough, others did not and communicated with me in private to tell me so. By listening to some alternative viewpoints, I was forced to rethink my position. So, if you also thought the above article was sexist, I’d like to invite you to see another angle.

He’s Just Not That Into You

I now no longer believe that the imbalance of salaries had anything to do with gender.

There, I said it. It is my belief that it was a measure of how much E! actually valued Catt. Essentially, E! was just not that into her. That’s a phrase made famous on Sex and the City, when Miranda went out on a fabulous date and told her friends about it. As girls do, they analyzed the pleasant date with optimism, but Carrie’s boyfriend knew the guy code and told her the cold hard fact: “he’s just not that into you.”

If a guy really likes you, it doesn’t matter if he’s leaving on a 6 a.m. flight the next day—he is still spending the night. It doesn’t matter if he is a doctor performing four back-to-back surgeries that day—he’ll find time to text you. He will ask you for another date when he is still on the date, because he can’t deal with NOT seeing you.

That is a guy who is “into you.”

Perceived Value

Just like a network, studio, production company, or any other buyer, there is no price too high when there is great value. Do you think Fox cries poor when they’re negotiating a deal with a little-known actor? Katy Perry, on the other hand, signs on to be a panelist/judge and Fox gladly pays $25 million. They are pulling from the same wallet, but Fox really, really wants Katy Perry, and they kind of want the little-known actor.

Entertainment is a creative business, so there has to be wiggle room to negotiate. Does Nene Leaks fulfill the same job as pick-any-housewife-on-any-franchise? Sure, the job is the same, but the salary is not. Nene is a star. She grew into it and continues to flourish. Same with any of the Kardashians. You can say they all do the same job, but they measure salaries by different metrics, and one of those metrics is perceived value.

How You Can Increase Your Value to an Employer

So, how can you increase your perceived value to a current or potential employer? Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Keep dating! If you haven’t signed a contract, you aren’t in a committed and exclusive work relationship. Go on interviews, have coffee/lunch/drinks with anyone who expresses interest in you. See what’s out there and figure out your worth. Just like a dating, if a man senses that someone else is after his woman, he is in full competition mode and wants to win you over.

2. Look for love in all the right places. Money isn’t the only measure of “love” in the work place. Employers can show you they value you in a variety of ways. They might give you more money, more vacation days, a higher title, new accounts, flexible hours, or any other kind of perk or responsibility to show they see value in you in both the short and long term.

3. Move on! If you aren’t “feeling the love,” you might have to bounce. Catt Sadler, with the help of an agent and manager, will navigate her way to the next, hopefully bigger and better opportunity, with someone who will really value what she brings to the table. As a 20-something, you aren’t likely in that same position. You are most attractive to another employer when you are seen as a “get” or a “steal.” So, if you can, secure your next job, then leave your current job. Not the other way around.

This is business and not love. The currency is money, so keep the power flowing and plug into a new power source if need be.