What If I Don't Know My Market Value During Salary Discussions?

Your skills and talents are worth something. You can get an objective appraisal before going into the job interview. You can easily research the job’s salary range. Your goal is to find typical job salaries for people with similar experience and skills in your industry.

In other words, answer the question, “What range would the company have to pay to find someone like you?” Put another way, “If you don’t take the job what would the company have to offer to find someone as good as you?” Without having this kind of salary data you won’t be able to substantiate your case for the salary you want. This is my Fifth Commandment of Salary Negotiations: Honor Thine Skills and Talents.

Your fair market value is not one tidy number but a range. It is a composite of three components: your Objectively Researched Value, your Individual Value, and your Future Value. Once you know the job title and perhaps the job description, you’ll be able to home in on your Objectively Researched Value (ORV$) or simply put, the present going rate. The Internet in general, augmented by your library’s subscriptions to data, should give you enough data to get a fix on the competitive rate.

Specifically, five sites can give you a well-rounded opinion:

– PayScale.com – collects ongoing salary data directly from visitors.

– Salary.com – collects salary data from companies and customizes it to location, size of company, etc.

– JobStar.org – links you to 300+ salary survey sites.

– CareerJournal.com – has lots of articles about salary trends.

– Indeed.com – gleans salaries from millions of online help-wanted ads and presents a summary for you.

You won’t get one simple numeric answer, but with an hour or so of effort, search, and printouts, you can get a range for the pay level comparison. Once that’s done, the two other factors, above, should be added in. For your Individual Value, assess your special training, assets, skills, competencies, etc. that are of value to your employer.

Finally, take into account any long-term rewards like profit sharing, performance bonuses, raises, stock options, etc. that are part of your package. This gives you an idea of your Future Value. Blending these three numbers gives you negotiation power. Instead of “Here’s what I’d like,” you can say, “Here’s the range of what others are paid, and why I should be paid the top of the range.”

Jack Chapman, is known as “The Salary Coach.” His book “Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute”, the bible of salary negotiation, is available through from his web-site: http://www.salarynegotiations.com

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