Are you being paid fairly? When looking for a higher-level position, how should you answer the compensation question? Your market value has a number of different components to it: Industry norms, supply/demand, past titles,experiences, geography, the company size and practices, and many more. Some companies pay at the mid-point of industry averages while others target the 60thpercentile or above, and some are below the 40thpercentile.
So how do you go about figuring out your marketplace worth? Start by accessing four different data points: One from government, two from surveys and one from colleagues.
Government: There’s an online database from the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has general but useful information for over 800 different occupations. It will be less specific than other resources, but you’ll get an overall sense of the marketplace and a view of compensation parameters.
One online resource: Glassdoor has an excellent program that will give you information once you input some of your data points such as the job, years of experience, and where you would like to work. You can modify some of the criteria and play with alternatives, but you can get a fairly good insight into compensation factors.
Another online resource: PayScale is a similar online tool that gives you a useful estimate about what you should be paid, by using the criteria listing of job, experience and location. The information is gathered by data from users of the system: Those who already have the job for which you are looking, so it’s real-time records.
Colleagues: Talk with your contemporaries who have similar jobs to the one you are searching. Your network of associates, family, neighbors, friends and co-workers all have contacts that may be helpful. What you’ll collect is an assortment of information that needs to be sharpened to best fit your need.
In a general sense, your market worth is dependent upon what an organization is willing to pay for what you know and can do for them. If you have a special skill or experience that few people have, you will be worth more to them.
When in an interview situation, I suggest a dual strategy when you’re asked the compensation question, assuming you’ve researched the marketplace data:
- Most jobs that are posted give a position description and a salary number. When asked, “What salary are you looking for”, never give a number. Always give them a range, from X to Y. In that way you have a better negotiating position.
- You might also say, “I can’t give you a fixed number because I need to compare my total compensation with an offer, including incentives, bonuses, health and other insurance costs, complexity of the work, expectations for results, advancement opportunities and fit.”
Your worth in the marketplace is dependent upon many factors. The greatest factor is your ability to contribute to the success of the job for which you are interviewing. Demonstrated results are your best negotiating position.
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