Everyone wants to make more money. But do you really know how much you should be earning?
Do you think changing jobs will net you a pay increase? Maybe, maybe not. Before you begin applying for any jobs, you will want to understand some things about today’s hiring process and pitfalls that may limit your earning potential.
Do You Know How Much You Should Be Earning?
Your Value is Determined by Supply and Demand
If the workforce is filled with people who do the same thing you do, then it’s easy for an employer to find the talent they are looking for. This tends to drive salaries down.
One reason personal branding has become so important is that it gives you the power to differentiate yourself. When you promote your unique skills and experiences, you look less like a cookie-cutter job seeker and more like a must-have resource to employers. When done well, your efforts could result in an increased perceived value and therefore, more money.
Where To Start
How much should someone with your experience be earning? That’s a great question but not necessarily an easy question to find an answer to. No one has the exact same background as you, so there are many variables to consider.
You can start by searching job boards and look at the jobs that you are suited for. (Yes, some postings still list salary information). In other words, the job requires the same years of experience and you have almost all the skills required and have performed the duties listed. But you can’t stop here. You will need to conduct research using several different sources. Using multiple resources will help corroborate the salary ranges.
Here are several ways you can find out the salaries of jobs you are interested in.
No, you shouldn’t ask someone how much money they make. But you can ask someone in a similar role what she thinks the average salary is for that type of job.
Did you know that professional associations often conduct salary research and share that data as a benefit to its members? Now would be a good time to investigate membership.
Don’t forget to tap into the market knowledge third-party recruiters have. Companies often hire a third-party recruiter to fill an opening, which means these recruiters know salary information for the jobs they’ve filled. Pick up the phone and call a recruiting agency and ask to speak with the recruiter who places people in your desired occupation.
Employer review sites like Glassdoor can also shed some light on how much a company pays.
Last, but not least, online salary calculators can give you a broad salary range. This is a quick and easy way to start your research, but always use multiple sources to verify the results. (HR and recruiters often say salary calculators run high). Here are some salary calculators to check out.
Know Your Range
Based on your research and conversations, and taking your unique background into consideration, establish your salary range. The lowest number in your range is the amount you would accept if the right type of job was offered. The highest number is the amount you would love to earn. People often ask how large the range should be. As a general rule, keep your range fairly tight – the difference between your two numbers shouldn’t be much more than $10,000.
Know When It’s Time To Talk Money
You will be asked for your salary requirements during the online application process, so it is important to know your value at the beginning of your job search.
Recruiters will also ask you during a phone screen what your salary expectations are. Instead of responding with your range, ask the recruiter what the company has budgeted for the position. It may feel uncomfortable to ask this question, but it’s important to know. You don’t want to under or overprice yourself for the position. You may need to modify your range to ensure it falls within what the company is offering.
If you carefully analyzed the job description and you’ve done your due diligence researching salaries, your range should be close. However, if your number is far off, you may need to ask the recruiter more questions about the job responsibilities to make sure it is what you are looking for.
Salary Isn’t The Only Thing That Matters
Before you even start searching for a new job, make a wishlist of all the job duties, benefits and perks that are important to you. Use this as a starting point for your search. Your challenge is to find a job with an employer that meets as many of your requirements as possible and compensates you for the value you deliver. Never try to negotiate these things before you have a verbal or written offer.
This post originally appeared on US News & World Report
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.