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What Are You Worth As a Job Seeker or Employee?

by Bob Ketteringham

posted in Business

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What is your market value? Do you ever wonder whether your salary is appropriate or whether you should get a raise? Are you in a job search and want to learn what salary to request and expect? You need information. But, how can you get it. Whether you are currently employed or in a job search, answers are available. Career coaches often help their clients research salaries. This article provides some resources that I find useful.
During job search you will be frequently asked for your desired salary. Answering must be handled delicately and based on realistic expectations derived from research. Job interviewers will ask for your salary expectations. It's best to stall until you have convinced them of your worth and the job offer comes; then, begin salary negotiation, but sometimes this is not possible. Job seekers must be careful to neither lowball nor over price themselves as they want the job and the best compensation possible. Lower starting salaries make it hard to catch up and lead to job dissatisfaction; whereas, overpricing may eliminate you from consideration. To avoid either, salary knowledge through market research is necessary. Considerations would include geography, experience, and job requirements. Research enables you to provide an informed answer.
Knowing salary information provides an edge in compensation negotiation whether beginning your first career or changing careers. It's best to get several perspectives.
Negotiating salary requires consideration of a number of factors. What are the expectations of your job? What responsibilities will you have? How often can you expect pay increases and what is the average annual increase for good performers? Do medical and retirement benefits offset salary or will lack of benefits reduce your net income? Does salary account for cost of living? Does job satisfaction provide a quality of life that compensates for lower salary? Salary negotiation must take these and other questions into account and is too much to cover in this article.
Below are some ways to learn about salaries for your desired position:
• Of course, the best source for salary information directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In other words, from those in the position you seek at your target company. This is generally difficult as people like to keep their salary confidential and many companies have policies about discussing salaries. Here is where networking and preliminary research can payoff. People are more apt to share such information with people they know and trust. By researching general salaries using indirect methods first, you can share what you learned and ask their perspective. For example, you might say, "I've been informed that the average pay for this position is $$. What are your thoughts?" It's best to get several perspectives.
• Ask people in similar positions but different companies regarding salary expectations. These people know the industry and the general pay scales of competition.
• Ask those in positions above the job you seek. Having come from that position, they have intimate knowledge of what they made. Further, as many such people are directly or indirectly involved in the hiring process, they would know what their company has been offering.
• Human Resources occasionally provide salary ranges. Similarly, you can search for company job postings or online job boards for salary of similar positions.
• Professional organizations associations are another good source. Many organizations conduct regular salary surveys. As such, they may give you ranges. Further, they are a good networking source to connect you with others who can help answer your questions
• Recruiters can be helpful as they are directly involved in salary negotiation and have a good idea what jobs pay. Recruiters are plentiful and use networking constantly. You can find many on LinkedIn and ask their advice.
• Salary sites are a good source for general salary information. These include:
1. gets its data from vendors who survey companies' human resources staff. It provides salary and overall compensation packages.
2. gets its information from its users.
3. gets its information from millions user-submitted profiles.
5. provides links and description of over 300 salary surveys or summaries.
• Career sites or job boards are another source. These sites keep record of salaries for posted jobs.
1. gets its information from its job postings over the past 12 months rather than surveys; thus, they may better reflect what the market is presently paying. Searches can be done using both job titles and skills.
2. offers a salary calculator by job title and location.
3. Career offers a salary calculator as part of its Job Seeker Services.
4. is a job search engine providing seekers access to numerous jobs.
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, BLS provides salary information from sources such as the National Compensation Survey.
Once you have a good idea of the going salaries, you can take informed action-whether applying for a job or seeking a raise. We all want to get paid well for doing our jobs as it both pays the bills and gives us a sense of self-worth. However, there is much more to consider about job satisfaction than merely pay. The big question is-"Will you be happy?" Great pay in a job that negatively impacts your quality of life may not be worth it, lower pay with a better quality of life may be a better choice. Furthermore, there are benefits and their costs to consider; your higher salary may result in a net decrease in take home pay if you must purchase these benefits yourself. Some companies will present a total compensation package that may seem outstanding on the surface. However, you may not need or want everything in the total package; if so, you'll need to negotiate higher salary. If you need help in sorting through everything, you may find a career coach helpful as they specialize in helping clients locate jobs, land jobs and negotiate. Many career coaches also offer onboarding to help their clients get off to a fast start in their careers.
About the Author: Bob Ketteringham is a career and life coach with Christian values. He is dedicated to helping unemployed and underemployed find meaningful employment. He helps with job search, resume writing, interview preparation, social media use in job search, negotiations, and onboarding. His site and blog can be found at
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