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Undervalued and underpaid in your job? Watch this video

How a frustrated software engineer shifted her perspective and her work life

This video discusses the issue of comparative value and being underpaid, undervalued, and unappreciated in tech. We explore the perspective shift that separates the top successful performers in tech. We also discuss the story of a Software Engineer I coached, Alexandra, who went through this shift after feeling frustrated and stuck.

I pride myself on grit and determination through adversity, but you should realistically evaluate your situation. I’ve seen too many direct reports, friends, and colleagues bang their heads against the wall in vain. Hopefully, this perspective shift will help empower you if you decide it’s time.

Show Notes

00:00 Introduction: The Problem of Being Underpaid in Tech

00:57 Understanding Your Value in the Tech Industry

01:30 Harnessing the Power of Relativity in Your Career

02:42 The 3-Step System to Being Properly Valued

02:52 Alex's Journey: From Underpaid to Valued

03:36 Understanding Your Unique Value as a Puzzle Piece

4:15 The Last Straw

05:01 Why They Underpay YOU Specifically

07:10 The Jump & How to Assess Your Market Worth

9:23 A Market of One

10:50 The Art of Negotiation and Tactical Empathy

13:07 Choosing the Right Job Offer

14:30 Conclusion: The Journey to Fulfillment in Tech

Summary - for those who prefer reading

If you work in tech, there's a good chance you're underpaid. I know that may sound ridiculous coming from someone quite senior and well-compensated. But being undervalued can severely limit your career growth and lead to burnout.

The good news is, you have the power to change this. It's simpler than you think.

In this video, I'll tell a story that will hopefully show you the one thing that sets apart the top 10% of successful tech professionals. Why being underpaid harms you at any level. And three steps you can take starting today to get properly valued.

This insight helped me reach senior leadership and the top 0.1% of tech salaries in the Bay Area. I learned it by observing the habits of FAANG executives and leaders at top startups.

I compared what they did differently versus talented people I mentored who seemed stuck. It wasn't about effort or rigor. It was about strategic fit.

You're probably wondering - am I actually underpaid? Compared to most jobs, no. But relative to your potential? Almost certainly. Peers with similar experience often make way more by job hopping or negotiating better offers.

This isn't just about a one-time raise. It's about permanently changing how you see your worth so you can thrive.

Imagine a twin working in tech with your same background. They feel valued, earn more, have a better lifestyle. What's their secret?

They realize their value is not absolute. It's relative. Maybe they found an environment that prizes their analytical skills over design flair. You need to see that your worth depends hugely on context.

The exact same person can struggle at one company but crush it at another. I love sushi, my friend loves pizza. I'll happily eat Dominos. But my friend wants artisanal $60 pie. We appreciate the same ingredients differently.

You're like a puzzle piece. Your unique shape only perfectly fits certain teams and roles. Jammed into the wrong spot, you'll be frustrated. You need an environment that treasures your protruding edges, not one that forces you to fit.

So how did my mentee Alex engineer a transition from feeling undervalued to finding the right fit? The 3 step system used by top professionals:

  1. Understand your unique value proposition. Analyze your skills and passions like a puzzle piece with special shapes. Research which companies and roles fit you best. Reach out to current and former employees about advancement opportunities. If your environment doesn't appreciate your strengths, explore better matches. You'll make time for what pays off.

  2. Find companies that disproportionately value you. Alex made a list of 80 target firms, prioritizing those aligning with her backend expertise or paying top rates. She tailored her narrative to each opening, highlighting unique assets she brought. When interviews rolled in, she researched projects posted on company blogs to showcase relevant experience. Her preparation and enthusiasm left interviewers eager to work with her.

  3. Negotiate offers through "tactical empathy." Alex positioned her background as the perfect solution for concerns shared by the recruiter, hiring manager and skip-level execs. She got them invested in her success by spelling out how she'd quickly achieve desired outcomes. Thanks to her advocates, Alex secured an above-band offer and up-level, saving 2-4 years of promotion time.

Alex found a role that finally appreciated her worth, leading to greater impact, recognition and fulfillment. Best of all, with less stress. You have the same opportunity with some strategic self-reflection.

Understand your unique value, research where you're disproportionately needed, and negotiate with tactical empathy. You'll be shocked how fast opportunities arise when you take these simple steps.

The tech industry needs your special skills. But first you have to find where you're valued. This new perspective can change the entire trajectory of your career.

Top Tech by Colin Lernell
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