Know Your Worth
Know Your Worth
How do I determine my worth?
Finding out what you are worth requires research, self-reflection and networking.
Robin Meyer, associate director of the Office of Career Counseling at Williams College, says salary survey sites on the Web can be helpful, and she also recommends the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as a good source. Job postings and ads on the Internet, in newspapers and in trade journals are also helpful.
Look into your professional history and ask yourself, "What do I bring to the table?" Get advice from vocation and job counselors if you don't know where you're headed, says Cary Silberman, a human resource consultant with The Negotiation Institute.
Meyer suggests documenting your professional progress. "Keep a kudos file to keep track of items like positive work evaluations, examples of your best work, thank you notes from clients, awards or recognitions so that you have them at your fingertips when you need them," she says.
Last, but most importantly: Network, network, network. Experts agree that the best source of salary information is other people in the same field.
"You are worth different amounts in different markets…What's more, you may be worth more to one company than you would be to another," says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling and outplacement organization.
Ultimately, "you're worth whatever they will pay you," says Meyer.
What factors impact my worth?
Many people believe that skills, experience and education are the only things that impact their worth in terms of salary. However, there are several other factors: geographic location, industry, company size -- and sometimes even who you report to -- can determine your worth, says Joe Kilmartin, managing director of compensation consulting at Salary.com.
He notes that worth sometimes depends on the state of the job market and the personality of the applicant.
"Personality is a very important factor, because you may have the best background but if your personality does not mesh into an organization, you may not get what you are worth," he said.
How do I find out the typical salary for my position?
Check the job announcement for a salary range. If it's not listed, you may have to do some research.
"For a unique job, look at job sites specific to your occupation, like nurses should go to a job site catering specifically to healthcare workers," Kilmartin advises.
If you can't find what you are looking for, it may be because you are not searching correctly, says Kilmartin. "One of the biggest complaints users have with [Salary.com] is when an employee mismatches their job."
For example, he says, you may be looking at the salary information of a senior accountant and have the same title but you've been at your company for less than two years and may not be eligible for the "traditional" salary of a senior accountant.
If you aren't lucky enough to have access to the results of a compensation survey targeting your profession, experts recommend talking to people in your field.
"You need to find out what you as a real person are worth to real companies," says Wendleton. At networking meetings you should ask, "What kind of salary could someone like me expect at your company?" she says.