Estimate Your Market Value
If you don’t know your own worth and value don’t expect someone else to calculate it for you.
Knowledge is power in the negotiation process.
In addition to learning all that you can about the organization, you need to estimate a Fair Market Value for the position you seek in the geographic area where the job is located.
Your aim is to determine a realistic salary range, rather than a specific dollar amount. For example, you might suggest a "salary range of between $50,000-60,000." The bottom number is the minimum salary that you will consider with good benefits; the top number is your aspirational salary goal. Chances are, you will agree to a number somewhere in the middle if you have established a reasonable salary range.
Use credible data from several trusted sources to inform your negotiation strategy.
- Analyze official government data.
- Compare several salary surveys.
- Investigate how much current employees earn (private companies are a challenge.)
- Locate salaries for comparable positions in the same geographic area.
- Obtain estimates from trusted mentors & alumni; others in discipline.
By comparing these sources, you will be able to to identify high and low salaries for the job title, industry sector, and geographic area.
Now consider how precisely your degree, disciplinary skills, and transferable skills match the job description. Have you completed specialized training or have directly-related work experience? Finally, consider how the current economy, supply/demand of workers and employment projections might impact a fair market value.
Does the salary range that you have established reflect a fair market value? If so, when you are asked, "How did you calculate fair market value for this position?" you will be able to share your data sources.
Illustrative Salary Databases
- All occupations: (US government data) O*Net Online or try (private source) Salary.com
- Academic salaries: College and University Professional Assn. for HR or try Chronicle of Higher Ed
- Art & Humanities: National Association of Colleges & Employers
- Engineering (caution, private databases): Engineersalary.com or Salarylist.com
- US Government salaries: Government Salary Data.com
- Life Science: The Scientist Magazine
- Nonprofit or NGO salaries: GuideStar or the fee-based NonProfit Times
- Science & Engineering salaries: National Science Foundation's Recent Grad Survey and Survey of Earned Doctorates
Note: Compare/contrast data from several sources. Critique sample size, data sources & methods used in surveys.