6 Ways to Determine How Much You Should Be Paid

By now, most people know that interviewing for a new job will involve negotiating a salary. And most people also hear that in order to negotiate a salary, you need to know your market value. But what exactly does it mean and how to understand it?

Employers have a long way to go to become transparent about their pay practices, so until then, it’s up to employees to speak up and defend themselves. The good news is that there are a growing number of national and local policies, online resources, and networks of people willing to share information in the name of pay transparency and pay equity. Here are some ways to determine how much you should be paid.

Consult local job offers

Your market value will depend on a handful of personal factors (your job title, years of experience, level of education, and particular skills or certifications) and how they fit into the context of your job market. (your location, company size, industry).

It’s getting easier and easier to research salary ranges based on where you live, says Michelle Yu, human resources consultant and career coach. At least 10 states and cities have passed laws that require employers to affirmatively state their salary ranges — in Colorado they must be listed in job descriptions, and New York will follow suit in May.

If you live in a state or city that has pay transparency laws in effect, you can search online for job postings for your current title, or the one you’re looking for, and see if the range is listed.

See if HR is required to tell you

Checking job postings for salary ranges isn’t always foolproof — employers can advertise a position that’s between $50,000 and $150,000. A more direct approach would be to ask the hiring manager directly or go to your own company’s office. HR, Yu says. Again, you might have the right to know the salary range for a new job, transfer opportunity, or promotion if your state or city requires it by law.

Laws vary widely: in Nevada, employers must automatically provide the salary range to candidates after an initial interview, even if the candidate has not requested it. But in Washington, employers are only required to share the pay scale when they make an offer and if the candidate requests it.

Job seekers and workers should check their state’s Department of Labor website for more information.

Search online salary databases

Then there are anonymous online databases, which ask users for their salary information in exchange for access to see other people’s salaries and company reviews. With larger databases, you can get specific information and search by job title, city, years of experience, or company.

Glassdoor, Payscale and Emsi Burning Glass are a few that lead the pack and can be used as a starting point for salary research, says Matt Gotchy, executive vice president of marketing at HR compliance tool Trusaic.

Your industry may also have its own databases. Yu works primarily with marginalized tech workers and recommends sites like Candor.co, Elpha, AngelList, and Transparent Career. Levels.fyi, Blind, or the Fishbowl app are other popular salary whisper networks.

Take anonymous salary data with a grain of salt. Different sites have their own standards for verifying self-reported data. And some entries might be outdated, Gotchy says, especially for a fast-growing company or one that has quickly increased its compensation due to the tight job market.

Talk to your colleagues

Online searches can take you quite far, but nothing is as specific or localized as talking with your peers. Gotchy points out that it is perfectly legal and protected for most private sector employees to discuss compensation with colleagues under national labor relations law.

Of course, how you approach the subject will depend a lot on how you interact with your colleagues. Yu recommends starting with people you are comfortable with, like peers you trust. Or, you can tap into someone who’s already said they’re as passionate about pay transparency as you are. Timing can also help, such as if you’re all going through a performance review and bonus season, or if you’re opening the conversation because you’re considering a raise or promotion and want their help collecting more points. compensation data.

Tap your extended network

If you’re not going the peer route, you can try your network and ask someone more experienced than you, says Octavia Goredema, author and career coach. Ask them for their perspective on what the pay scale should be for the position you are seeking. Framing is key: You’re not asking how much they’re earning now, or even how much they’ve earned in the past, but rather what they think the range for your role should be, Goredema says. And they might share their own salary history or negotiation strategies with you.

Raising pay is going to be tough, says Mabel Abraham, a Columbia Business School professor who studies gender inequality in the workplace. So the best thing to do is to make sure you build those networks over time, instead of tapping into them when things are urgent. The pay gap exists, so make sure your network is diverse across the range of races and genders.

And, because they have always received the highest salaries, adds Goredema, “if possible, talk to a white man.”

Ask your future colleagues

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