Regardless of your employment status, it is usually reassuring to know what your dollar value is on the open market.
As you search for a new position, internally or externally, it is critical to have an idea of your worth relative to the salary range of your position. What a position pays should not come as a surprise to you midway through an interview. Doing your homework before you ever go for the interview helps you focus on the content instead of worrying about compensation.
Know your value
Once you stop huffing and puffing about the importance of your contribution to any organization fortunate enough to have you, it is time to look at the facts.
Each position within an organization has a dollar value. Companies come up with their salary structures by examining benchmarks for comparable positions within their industry, function, and demographic location. Cost of living plays heavily into how a specific salary range is calculated. If you ever wondered why positions pay better in one location versus another, it is because the cost of living is considerably higher in Manhattan than in Kansas City, and to attract good people, companies in Manhattan need to be competitive in their salaries.
There are a variety of different places you can use to research your value in the marketplace, including the following places:
Salary.com and glassdoor.com. What makes these sites worth looking at? It is like one-stop shopping. There is so much useful information on either site, that if you fail to look anywhere else, at least you'll be armed with fairly reliable, worthwhile information.
What will you find? Information sorted by job title, demographics, industry, and cost of living. Spend some time and dig deep to find the answers to your questions. Go for the free information; more than likely, you can skip anything with a fee attached!
Wall Street Journal. In the journal's online careers section (online.wsj.com), there are regular salary surveys and cost of living conversion charts that are helpful if you are looking at relocation.
LinkedIn. If you are a member of LinkedIn, ask your colleagues about salary ranges or get into a discussion group to gain valuable feedback.
Former employers. If you lost your job as a result of a layoff, don't be afraid to ask your former employers' HR department what they have found when they benchmark salaries. While HR teams always tell you that they are highly competitive and that you were well paid, that isn't always necessarily the case.
Industry specific surveys. In our field, always use the current salary surveys from ASTD and SHRM to get an indepth view of the marketplace. While no survey is accurate up to the minute, you will get a snapshot of what your value is or could be. ERIERI.com has a listing of more than 3,000 sources for salary surveys, most of which come with a hefty purchase price.
Monster.com. This site has salary ranges attached to many of the positions on the site. Ads are placed by firms and recruiters to attract applicants. This is a way to see what the marketplace is offering dollarwise, but it may be hit-or-miss because not all positions have salaries attached.
Ask a recruiter. Find several HR or training placement firms and make friends. They are a great source for competitive compensation information.
Remember, employers place a value on the specifications they have assigned to a specific position, regardless of the occupant. If you want to boost your compensation, you will have to boost what you do - and knowing what your skills and abilities are worth in your selected marketplace will give you something solid to talk about when it comes to salary negotiation.
Where to Look Online?
JobStar provides links and descriptions of 300+ free salary surveys or summaries. The site pulls from periodicals, newspapers, trade and professional journals, and recruiters and employment agencies. They also make general information, such as negotiation strategies, available to users.
Home of the Salary Wizard, Salary.com is a fast and easy-to-use compensation resource and portal for everyone from entry-level workers to executives. A fee is required for a complete, personal compensation report. Products and reports tailored to small businesses and large enterprises are available. The site "draws from and combines data from hundreds of professionally-conducted surveys of corporate HR departments."
The data provided by SalaryExpert is pulled from employer-provided input, salary surveys from the Economic Research Institute (ERI), and other sources. There is also a comprehensive cost of living relocation report available at the site. Several "levels" of reports can be obtained, as well as international data.
The ERI offers a number of products, including salary, geographic, relocation, executive compensation, nonprofit salary, and occupational assessor software packages. Prices range from $889 to $2,289 U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists free employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. Narrow down your data by occupation, geographic type, and annual and hourly wage. The most recent report for the "training and development specialist" occupation was released in May 2008.