Maybe you’ve just gotten word that there’s a new job opportunity opening up at your company. Maybe you are thinking of shifting industries and want to explore a new career track. Perhaps you’ve been offered a job already, and you’re trying to assess whether the pay matches your skills and experience. Whatever your situation, if you’re looking for a new job, there’s probably one big question on your mind: What’s my salary going to be?
“Even when the money on offer is enough to live on, you need to figure out if it’s an amount worthy of your knowledge and skills and whether it’s in line with the local market. Look at the financial package on the whole,” says Rebecca Knight, an author for the Harvard Business Review. You need to know your worth relative to the context of the job, so that you can have an idea of whether the salary offered is fair, and also have a better sense of what leverage you can use in a negotiation. Here’s how!
1. Do your online research
First, you need to get a sense of what people in your same position would make. This is not only limited to the same type of position – “office manager”, for example – but also your location. Being an office manager in Kansas yields a different average salary than being an office manager in San Francisco does. Also, your years of experience count. Someone who’s been an office manager for 10 years is more likely to land a higher salary than someone who’s just becoming an office manager this year. To get a sense of what the ballpark salary is for the type of position you’re eyeing, a simple search on Glassdoor’s salary search tool will give you a baseline idea.
Then drill down by comparing the average compensation with your market worth. How do you find out your market worth, you say? Use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth, which gives you a personalized estimated market value, what others in your field are being paid, as well as the open jobs available. Once you have a ballpark for your market worth, you’ll be able to compare that with what the average salary for the position you’re vying for is. Plus, many job openings on Glassdoor will reveal a salary estimate which allows you to know how much a role can pay before you apply. #Transparency.
2. Do your in-person research
On top of what the internet can tell you, it’s also important to get as full a picture as possible by talking to people within the and in the industry. There may be specific factors at play that lead to a company offering a certain salary that you weren’t expecting. Reaching out to people through your professional network or over social media can help you get more insight into whether you think the salary a company is offering is fair or not.
3. Decide if you’ll negotiate
If your market worth is higher than the salary you’re being offered (or even if it’s not higher!), this might be a time to consider negotiating. Knowing the general range of salaries for people in your position will give you leverage in your negotiation. But also keep in mind that the market worth you’ve calculated for yourself might not factor in the overall benefits package they’re offering. It also might depend on the size of the company or how long it’s been established for. The bottom line is that you should be able to explain why you deserve a pay increase. Come prepared with the research and the right questions, and be confident.
4. Think about what other benefits matter to you
At the end of the day, salary is certainly an important factor in why we choose a job. But it’s one factor among many. There are also many other reasons why we might take a job – personal fulfillment, a great location, ideal work-life balance, opportunities for future advancement, just to name a few. Think about the benefits outside of salary that you’ll get, too, when you’re making your ultimate valuation of a job.
There are many forms of variable compensation from cash bonuses and tips to commissions and equity that could influence your base salary. In addition, some companies offer comprehensive benefits, including medical and dental benefits, paid time off, commuter subsidies and more. These are all important considerations in negotiating.
5. Ask and let the company reveal
One of the biggest mistakes we make as job seekers and employees is not asking direct questions to the hiring manager or HR person. Be confident and ask for the salary range for a position or role. According to a 2016 Glassdoor site survey, the #1 piece of information job seekers want employers to provide as they research where to work is salary/compensation. Recruiters know this and they expect the question.
If you’re job hunting, remember one of the most important rules of thumb to salary negotiations: you do not have to tell employers what you are or were earning at your previous company. Let the employer make the first offer, then you can follow it up with a higher number, and further showcase why you not only deserve to be hired but that you deserved to be hired at a better pay rate because of the value you are bringing to their team.
Remember, the most important way to figure out your salary in your next job is to be equipped with as much information as possible. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate and respect informed candidates, plus those with information are better equipped to make better decisions to find a job and company to fit their lives.