You need to find salary information and you need that before you apply for a job so here are some of the best ways to find out what the salary ranges are for jobs you are interested in.
We are starting to see a bit more transparency regarding salary information in job postings. In other words, some companies are posting salaries.
Some states have even made it against the law to ask how much you made in your previous job. (Good news!)
Sadly, when salary information is hidden, it leaves the job seeker wondering: is this job really the level I am looking for, should I even bother applying? It also results in pay disparity in the workforce. Those unwilling to negotiate or ask for more money are less likely to receive higher pay.
As stated, you want to research salary information before you apply for a job and definitely before your interview so that you have an understanding of what the going rate is for the type of job you will be pursuing.
Here are 3 ways to find salary information. It is best to use them all and take an average or at least compare.
1. Research Online (salary calculators):
The following salary calculators are a quick starting point. But too often, this is the only place job seekers look. These sites are good, but in some instances, the perception is that these calculators often inflate salary ranges. Nonetheless, it is data and it’s better than nothing.
Another note about these calculators, often the range provided is quite large. Depending on where the job is located, you may select the higher or low end of the range to adjust for cost of living.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Your state’s Department of Labor website
Another resource with a narrative about the occupation responsibilities and requirements is published in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (managed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). This has salary info at the bottom of each occupation.
2. Talk to Recruiters
Agency or outside recruiters place people in temporary, contract and/or permanent jobs. See what recruiters really do. They have a good idea of the going rate based on the jobs they have placed people in. You can research local recruiting agencies and contact them. It’s a simple conversation where you ask their advice on the going rates for the kind of work you are looking for.
3. Ask People Doing the Job
No, I don’t really mean asking a total stranger “How much do you make?” Not only is that rude, it usually will not get you anywhere or anything.
What I suggest you do is reach out to people you know and who are in your profession or industry and ask this question:
“What are you seeing the going rate is for my kind of work today?”
More often than not, you will get some sort of answer.
If you belong to a professional association in your field, you may want to check and see if they have recently done salary research and published a report.
Get This Info Early
You will be asked to complete online applications that ask for your salary requirements.
You will also be asked in phone interviews about your salary requirements. The sooner you know what the appropriate salary range is the better. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market or undervalue your talent. This is tricky.
The Value of Your Skills is Determined by…
The basic principle of supply and demand means that when there is a greater supply, it will drive prices down.
This is something you should be aware of. Just because you made $190 billion in your last job, doesn’t mean that is what you are worth. Consider these questions:
- How many other people can do what you do?
- Are they also looking for work?
- How many openings for the exact job you are interested in do you see listed online?
The scarcer the talent, the higher the salary.
The bottom line
It’s up to you to use the best ways to find salary information and know what your value is in today’s workplace.
At the end of the day, you are only worth what your future employer is willing to pay. And the job may require less or more than what you did in your past job. No two jobs are exactly the same, even if the job titles are. This is why researching salary is important.
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.