The economy is finally tipping upward and you may be thinking that now is the time to gain back lost salary ground. Perhaps your company cut salaries in 2009 (mine did). Perhaps you just haven’t gotten a raise, but have taken on a lot more responsibility. Productivity is way up, meaning that you are doing more for less money.
Or, perhaps your company has realized your value and has rewarded you amply, but you are tired of the long hours and increased responsibility. No matter what the case, your first step, before taking any action in your current job or in looking for another position, is to know your worth.
Back in the eighties and nineties, it was much harder to know what others were making, or even find out if your jobs were similar enough to even compare salaries. After being out of the work force for 10 years raising kids, I was just thrilled to get a job – paying $18K a year. That is equivalent to around $40 K in 2013. Each year I received around a 3 – 4 % raise. Except when I changed jobs, which I did twice. The first time I jumped ship, I got an 18% bump. Then 4 years later I moved again and got a 30% bump. These were great and I was happy. For multiple years after that, I plodded along with those 3-4% raises, until the year our human resources did a salary comparison. They looked at what other companies in our region were paying for my experience and responsibility level and gave me a huge salary adjustment. Little did I know that I was being paid less than most people doing the work I did.
The really sad part of it was that my boss got mad at HR for not telling him they were adjusting my salary. As it turns out, he would have withheld my typical 3-4% raise if he knew they were adjusting! As it was, I got both.
If I had known my worth, I could have tried to negotiate a higher salary, resulting in more pay over a decade. Of course, I was glad for the adjustment, but it also gave me pause. My head had been in the sand about what salary I could have requested!
How can you find out what others are making?
In my company, the culture and HR strongly discouraged employees from talking about salary levels. Since I was a manager, I felt compelled to comply. Of course, I did have access to the generic company pay scales for each job title (as a manager) and the salaries of those who reported to me (I had to figure out their raises after all). It can be somewhat disconcerting to know that someone working for you makes more than you do! BUT, I did not have access to what others in my own job title were being paid.
The internet wasn’t around with all of it’s wonderful information and frankly, I didn’t have the time or energy to dig around in the library. I was working 50 or 60 hour weeks and trying to raise a family.
You have more options today, although they will still take awhile to review. Here are three major websites that can help you get started in researching what various types of jobs will pay.
Indeed.com gives you a really fast answer. You just put in a job title and a city or zip and out pops a number.
Salary.com also gives you a pretty quick answer (if you ignore the annoying ads). I plugged in software engineer and (with a few clicks) got a median salary and a range plus the opportunity to refine the search (free but you have to give up your email id to get it).
Payscale.com zeros in on specific skills in addition to asking for job titles. Their interactive interview digs pretty deep into your experience, skills, certifications, location and etc. Because of that, it may be a bit more accurate than the above.
So, before you start thinking about jumping ship, going to another department or asking for more, find out what the range of salary and benefits is for jobs similar to yours in your area.
How did you find out what others in your field are making?