Discovering What You’re Worth

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Before you take a job, you should find out how much people with your mixture of skills and experience ought to be paid. It does you no good to have unrealistically high expectations, and you also don’t want to end up working for less than your market rate. Luckily, there are a lot of good places to search for salary figures, including the following:

– The Internet

Online sources of information abound. PayScale.com gathers salary data from people who visit its site, while Salary.com goes to companies and gets data from them. General career-related websites also often have some information on salary figures.

– The library

Printed figures on salaries lose their accuracy quickly, but most libraries subscribe to databases that are updated regularly. If your Internet-based searching ends up running you into paywalls, try making the same searches from a computer at your library. You may be able to access additional information.

– The government

The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts regular salary surveys, then compiles the information and shares it with the public.

– Your network

Asking people in your network for salary information can be very useful, but it requires discretion. Avoid asking what they make or made. Instead, let them know you’re researching salaries and provide with them a range of what you think you might be worth. Ask them if that range seems reasonable, and if not, what they would suggest.

– Trade publications and professional organizations

Organizations and publications focused on a particular industry often compile salary data, typically on an annual basis. Salary data from trade groups and publications often has the advantage of being more granular, and it may include information relating to job satisfaction as well.

No matter which methods of searching for salary information you employ, you should start your salary negotiations in a strong position by knowing the range of salaries people in your position are typically paid and why you deserve to be paid at the high end of the range.

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