Salary Negotiation Tips: Know How Much Money You’re Worth

Ask yourself, ”What range would the company have to pay to find someone like me?”


The Ten Commandments of Salary Negotiation (Part 5): Salary expert Jack Chapman offers 10 lessons on salary negotiation in the vein of the Ten Commandments.

Your skills and talents are worth something and you want to get paid the fair-market value when a company makes you a salary offer. But what is your market value? Don’t trust the hiring company. Find out for yourself.

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. If you are a data scientist in the consumer technology industry with three years of experience in Salt Lake City, Utah, find out what people in a similar role, with similar amount of experience, and in your city are getting paid.

You also want to find out how much people with similar experience and in similar roles are getting paid at your specific company. If you work at Sherwin-Williams, your salary as a sales representative might differ from those who work at Biogen.

In other words, answer the question, “What range would the company have to pay to find someone like me?” Put another way, “If I don’t take the job what would the company have to offer to find someone as good as me?” Without having this kind of salary data you won’t be able to substantiate your case for the salary you want.

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 hone in on your objectively researched value or, simply put, the present going rate. If the job title is embedded software engineer, research what others with that same title are earning in your area.

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.

These sites can help shape your opinion:

  • — collects ongoing salary data directly from visitors.
  • — collects salary data from companies and customizes it to location, size of company, etc.
  • — has articles about salary trends.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics — supplies surveys of corporate payroll data and employee questionnaires.

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 calculated.

Your individual value accounts for 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 to determine 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.”

Read other installments in this series:
Part 1: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Speak Too Soon
Part 2: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Regret Salary Disclosure
Part 3: Salary Negotiation Tips: Let the Employer Make the First Salary Offer
Part 4: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Agree
Part 5: Salary Negotiation Tips: Know How Much Money You’re Worth
Part 6: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Covet Thine Own Benefits and Perks
Part 7: Salary Negotiation Tips: This Is the Job Thou Coveteth
Part 8: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Worry about Earthly Economy
Part 9: Salary Negotiation Tips: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Thy Salary in Vain
Part 10: Salary Negotiation Tips: Honor Thy Wealth and Prosperity

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