Wages are directly tied to the perceived value of a job and often directly proportionate to the mental and physical capacity required to do it.

Generally, the higher one moves up in the value chain, the greater the mental capacity required. Physical strength is less needed for this jobs.

Workers at the bottom of the wage pyramid are typically in lower value jobs that involve menial or unskilled labour. As the barrier to qualifying for this type of work is low, people who do these jobs are perceived as easily replaceable.

White-collar professionals in the middle of the value chain also face competition and the challenge of remaining employable. How can they increase their value and, in turn, their wages?

Here are some suggestions:

* Be willing to take on more

Doing more increases your perceived value. If you have very little value-add in areas that require more experience and networking, try taking on tasks that you can assist with. Alternatively, ask if you may observe how the more difficult tasks are completed so you can learn the ropes.

For example, if you are new in the workforce and work in a high-end retail boutique where the client engagement and service levels are more sophisticated, be quick to ensure the comfort of the client.

Be willing to do the physical work of bringing the bags, the shoes, the clothes that your senior colleague wants to show the client. At the same time,  observe how she engages and satisfies all the demands of her high-end customer.

Building experience and expertise takes time, but it ensures that you are on the path to being able to take on greater responsibility. Being hardworking and willing to learn will also get you noticed by your supervisor — a key to moving up quickly.

* Say “I can”

Rise to the challenge of working on tasks you have never done before. Instead of being quick to state reasons why you can’t, be quick to say that you are happy to give it a good try.

Instead of whining about the difficulty of getting things done, focus on getting the project done as well as possible and value what you learn along the way.

A can-do attitude is infectious and those around you will feel your energy and positivity. A good supervisor will take your inexperience into account while giving you credit for the things you did right. You want to be perceived as someone with good potential and a great future. 

* Be visible

You should not melt into the background if you want to grow your career. While you should avoid bragging about what you have done or intend to achieve, it is important that people recognise your work and see you in action. Your colleagues and bosses should know your face and name and what you are good at.

* Seize opportunities

The best opportunities lie within your current environment. Be alert to what is happening around you — any expansion plans or changes in the scope of your department’s work can mean a chance to gain greater experience. Network with people who have access to the latest information about the organisation and its business.

* Join the crowd

Every industry has its own network of associations, both formal and informal, which have their own publications and hold regular events. Try subscribing to these periodicals for their insights and join as a member to enlarge your network. Who you meet and the knowledge you gain will surely come in handy at some point.

* Gain a reputation for professional ethics and integrity

Having a high level of professional ethics and integrity applies to both junior and senior staff members. Being accountable for your actions, delivering quality work at agreed timelines and behaving professionally with people at all levels are some of the values you should strive to live by.

Your personal and professional lives are intertwined, so don’t be naïve and think that wild party pictures splashed on your Facebook page or complicated relationships that everyone knows about will have no impact on your reputation.

Maintain a high standard of behaviour consistently and you will be amazed at how well others others think of you. They will make great references for your future career.