The topic of identifying career salaries regularly comes up in coaching sessions. My clients who are searching for a job or interested in a promotion need to understand the market before starting their negotiation. Individuals want to be paid what they are worth in the marketplace and for the skills and experience they bring to a position and organization. How do you find out what the “market” will pay you?
Government positions don’t hide the salary.
State government positions, including state schools, publish the salary range on the job posting. You can also research public records to find out what existing employees are paid. Tip: if you get an interview, don’t ask what the salary range is – you should have already researched it!
Can’t beat first-hand company intel.
Most other jobs do not have salary information so readily available. Do you know anyone who works at the company or better yet has worked in the same position? Ask colleagues or individuals currently working in a similar role and/or for the company of interest. First-hand information is likely pretty accurate. You can ask:
- Do you know the approximate salary range for this position?
- What do you think would be an appropriate salary for someone performing my job at my level?
Likely the information you receive will be accurate, but not the entire story. The individual you speak with might be able to provide you with what they are paid, but likely won’t know the budget or salary range for the position you want. Tip: include this question as part of an informational interview where you ask many other questions about the company – that can make it more comfortable for a new contact to open up.
Recruiter can be your best friend.
You could also ask the recruiter for the salary range of the position. Depending on the organization, though, they may not share this information with you, particularly recruiters employed by the company. A recruiter rarely volunteers this so you’ll have to ask. Tip: if a recruiter won’t divulge the figure they probably will tell you if your desired salary is within range – you have to spit out a figure first!
The internet is better than guessing.
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to know someone who can divulge accurate salary information for a particular position. If that is the case, you can turn to online research. Here are a few places to consider when researching:
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook
- NACE Salary Calculator
- Professional Associations Websites
If you can not find the exact salary range for the position you are seeking there are reasonably accurate methods available. Talking with individuals in similar positions or at similar organizations, probing the independent or company recruiter, and doing some outside research will put you in a much better place for your salary negotiation.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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