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How the Pros Research What Your Salary Should Be

April 13, 2016

Despite what many may think, companies are not always trying to pay their employees the least amount of money possible.
Employee retention rate and satisfaction are valuable numbers that companies pay attention to. If their employees are satisfied and feel like they are well compensated, they will most likely stay with the company longer. It costs a company more to re-hire and train a new employee then just to offer you a healthy salary from the get-go.
Researching the average salary for the same or similar position will build your confidence as you head into a salary negotiation.
When I was asked for my first salary requirement out of college, I had no idea what I was doing or what to write. I didn’t want to ask for too much and appear to be “all about the money.” I also was doing everything I could to obtain a job and didn’t want to appear rude with a number that was too high. So I just shot out a number that I thought sounded good.
The problem with that method was that it turned out to be way below their salary range. I looked unprepared, and I had de-valued what I was really worth.
Most people heading into an interview (or a meeting to ask for a raise), are unprepared and don’t have anything to backup their request. However, there is more than enough information on the internet and within your network to help you with this.


Become familiar with all that is expected for you at this job.
Are you expected to travel a lot?
Will you need to work some weekends?
Will you be managing others?
Are you expected to be available at all hours of the day and night?
How often will you be evaluated and due for a raise?
Are there regular bonuses?
What other benefits will you receive (free health care, extra vacation days, etc.)?
You get the point.
The answers to these may come from questions you ask in previous interviews. Knowing exactly what is expected of you in this role is an important thing to consider when determining how much you should get compensated. 
List out (or revisit your resume) all of the skills and experience you have.

Lori, a hiring expert at Cigna, says, “If you have a skill that not many people have and there is a demand for a role that requires that skill, you will most likely receive a higher salary to attract and then retain your services at a company. Entry level roles can vary based on the role responsibilities and how much prior experience someone may be able to bring to the position.” Full Quote

As Lori mentioned, consider your experience, education, and any skills that you may have that are unique to that job.

Do your research.

Cassie, a hiring expert at The Hershey Company, explains, “Many companies have a job evaluation process. The compensation department will look at the job responsibilities/skills needed and compare it with other similar jobs both within the company and by doing external benchmarking to determine what pay level that role should be, and what type of bonus target it should have.” Full Quote

The good news is, you can do this same type of research! You will want to both find similar jobs within the company you are applying for, and similar jobs at other companies in the same geographic location as you.
Websites like,,, and all are great places to start. Many of them will take you through detailed questions to help evaluate your skills, experience, and what the job entails. After all of that, they will tell give you a range of what other people in a similar role with similar experiences are making.
Most public companies will release reports at the end of the year with all of their employee’s salaries. If the company is public, consider finding their most recent report and look for people in roles you are applying for.
Don’t look for a magic number, make a range.
Based on your research, make a range of where you would like your salary to fall.
The low number in this range should be what you absolutely can’t go below. Take into consideration your monthly expenses and lifestyle. Make sure you consider what your take-home pay will be after taxes are taken out.

The high number in this range should be what you think you are worth. Don’t be scared when coming up with this number and de-value yourself. Revert back to your research and see what people are making. Make this number a littler higher than you may think if you are comfortable doing that.
This range will help give you wiggle room when negotiating your salary. Consider other benefits that they may offer. If they don’t offer health care, take into account that you will be paying an additional few hundred dollars each month to be covered. Maybe you have the option to work from home and won’t be spending money on gas each month. Benefits, or lack thereof, should all be considered when negotiating salary.


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