One of the most useful tools when entering a salary negotiation: Knowing how much your prospective employer pays others at the company who hold your would-be title. It’s also helpful to have a sense of what you are worth in the labor market. In other words, what would competitors of your would-be employer pay someone with your level of training, skill and experience?
All of this information is increasingly easy to find. Besides the old-fashioned method of schmoozing with folks who work in your chosen field, there is a trove of salary information online, much of it highly specific and lots of it free of charge.
The easiest, fastest way to get a salary snapshot: Google. Just type in a job title, location, company name and the word “salary” or “compensation,” and you’ll get a quick hit of information. I just did it for “editor” in New York City and the top hit was for job aggregation website Indeed.com, which pegs the average salary at $70,000.
Indeed and the other big job aggregator, SimplyHired, both have easy-to-use salary links. SimplyHired’s is a “salary estimator” at the bottom of its home page, under the heading, “Job Seekers.” Salary information comes up on Indeed as soon as you search for a job title and location. These sites collect their information from job listings. Consider this information a ballpark estimate. It isn’t specific to you, but it can help give you a sense of the range for the position and company in the city where you’re interviewing.
Another source for ballpark estimates: the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ table of Occupational Employment Statistics, which offers a wealth of salary information drawn from its employer surveys. This data is best used to get a broad sense of various fields and what they pay in different regions of the country, rather than a laser view of a job at a particular company. For instance, the mean annual wage for a computer and information systems manager across the nation was $136,280 as of May of last year. In the metropolitan New York City area, the job paid a mean of $169,530, while in Chicago it paid $125,440, and in Silicon Valley, $184,120. This data can be useful if you are considering a career change and/or a move, and wondering about compensation prospects in a particular field and region. But the BLS offers no information about jobs inside companies, and its job titles are broad, so it won’t help you much in salary negotiations.
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