Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How To Determine Your Salary Range

He who speaks first loses!
John H Seraichyk circa 1990

How to Determine Your Salary Range
By Caroline Levchuck

The elusive salary range ... Every job seeker needs one, but most don't know where to find it.
Salary ranges are a critical and often confusing part of job seeking.

Salary ranges change constantly. They vary from company to company, from bullish markets to bearish days, and from person to person based on experience. They also vary dramatically among different industries and geographic regions. But, help is out there. By following a few simple rules, you can determine a range that works for you.

Dig Deep

You'll have to do some digging to determine you salary range. First, start with online job calculators like the Salary Wizard here:http://hotjobs.salary.com/ Next, visit the Web sites and directories of professional associations. Often they'll not only provide salaries for positions in a particular industry but also ranges based on geographic location and experience level.

Government reports can also be very useful. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site offers national data on compensation and wages :http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ocs/home.htm Last, business and industry-specific trade magazines can offer insights too. Once you've armed yourself with all this salary research, you're ready to start shaping your salary range.

Reach Out and Talk to Someone

Work your network to determine your salary range. Call or email people in your industry or -- better yet -- at the company at which you're interviewing. Industry contacts can confirm and fine-tune the ranges you've devised. They can also share personal experiences negotiating salary.

Try to find contacts in your geographic region, since salary can vary widely from place to place.
Current or former employees of the company at which you're interviewing can help determine salary ranges at that particular organization. Good questions to ask include:

· What significance do salary ranges have at this company?
· Is the first offer usually at the low end of the range?
· Who gets a high offer and why?
· Is there one skill or trait that all top earners share, such as an MBA?

All of these questions can help you handle the salary negotiation process.

Do the Math

Every position and every company has a salary range. You need one too.
Now is the time to think of yourself. Consider your financial needs and your budget. Come up with salaries that cover what you absolutely need, what you would be most comfortable making and what your ideal wage would be.

Remember, too, that salary is just one part of your compensation package and your career. You may want to adjust your range based on the specifics of a position. Perhaps a job will give you experience you've been lacking. Maybe it offers a great deal of job security. Or perhaps the employer grants regular raises that will help you quickly climb the salary ladder.

Hire Help (If You Can)

Don't be overwhelmed by the legwork required to determine your salary range. You can do it.
But, if you can afford to, you can also hire an expert. Executives in particular sometimes do.
Coaches, compensation consultants and employment attorneys can research ranges for you. And professional pay advisers can often dig even deeper for specifics on a particular company because their networks tend to be bigger than the average person's. Experts will compare and contrast the data they've uncovered and help you analyze your own financial situation.

These paid professionals will also usually coach you in the negotiation process -- which can help you land the highest salary in the range.

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