Article: Salary Research Is Key to Getting the Pay You Deserve

Salary Research Is Key
to Getting the Pay You Deserve

When it comes to salary, knowledge is everything. Before discussing salary with a potential employer, be sure you’ve done your homework. You should know the typical pay scale for the job you’re seeking. With an amount in mind, you’re more likely to be successful in your negotiations.

Rest assured that your prospective employer knows the going rate for the position he’s offering, so you should too. Otherwise, you risk getting a salary that is below what you’re worth.

You can use a variety of sources to gain salary information. One of the best places to start is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau keeps data on earnings compiled from its Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey (www.bls.gov/oes). The National Association of Colleges and Employers (www.naceweb.org) also has salary information.

Use Google to find trade and professional associations in your field, which sometimes include salary guides on their websites. Also search for salary surveys for your profession.

As you review the data, keep in mind that average salaries are just that: averages. Don’t let the numbers create an unrealistic expectation for you, especially when you have limited work experience or are changing careers. The state of the economy can also affect salaries. You’ll have much less negotiating power when the economy is down and unemployment is high.

Salary is also greatly affected by geographic area. A particular job in New York City may pay double or triple what that same position would pay in Topeka, Kansas. The higher salary reflects the cost of living in NYC. It can be significantly more expensive to live in a large metropolitan area than in a smaller city, town or rural area. CB Salary.com (www.CBsalary.com) has a salary calculator that lets you compare salaries and costs of living for different cities and states.

At Glass Door (www.GlassDoor.com) you can peruse reviews, ratings and salary details about specific jobs and employers. The data is posted anonymously by employees themselves. You should realize though that average salaries are collected from self-selected people who are more likely to post their salaries if they’re happy with them in the first place.

At PayScale (www.PayScale.com) you can get a free salary report based on your job title, location, education, skills and experience.

Don’t limit yourself to online resources for salary research. Family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances who work in similar jobs may be able to give you insights. Help-wanted ads in newspapers and on online career sites sometimes list salary ranges for positions.

Don’t look at how much money your friends in other fields are making. If they aren’t working in the same industry, you are likely comparing apples to oranges.

Take into account that the starting salary is just that – the start. Your salary should be reviewed on a regular basis; many organizations do it every year. Ask about the company’s policy on salary reviews. Also, how much can you expect to earn after one, two, three or more years? Find out if potential exists for any commissions, bonuses or overtime pay.

Remember too, that salary says very little about whether the job is a good fit for you. You want to enjoy your work and the people with whom you’re working, so don’t let money be the most important factor when considering a job.

Knowing how to research salaries and negotiate your best deal is just one important facet of the job search process. For additional tips and strategies, check out the book, Job Hunting in a Tough Economy.

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