Millennials, Here's How to Research a Salary
Have you ever wondered if you were being paid fairly?
Whether you’re approaching an annual review looking to negotiate a raise, are currently engaged in a job search, or are fresh out of college, it’s important to understand how to determine your market rate so that you can be confident in your work.
Early on in my career, I was obsessed with salary research. Working in retail, I used sites like Glassdoor to research different companies and job titles to see where I could get paid the most with my existing skill set. It paid off. I ended up landing a retail job that paid $30-40k a year while still in college.
After entering the startup industry, I used these same sites to research and negotiate my salary 3x in one year.
If you do a quick Google search on the topic, you'll find that the top ranked articles are years old or refer to the same old websites that just aren't functional or up to date anymore, so I decided to put together a guide of the most up to date resources and websites that I use when researching a salary or market rate in 2019.
That being said, I want to share with you the tools and resources I use when researching a salary, but first, here are a few things you should consider while researching salary comparisons:
Consider that you may actually be able to charge more than you're currently charging or make a higher salary than you're currently making. So with that being said, open your mind!
Consider the fact that depending on the country, city and state that you're working and living can affect your salary. It’s not just about years of experience.
Remember this, your salary isn’t only determined by the number of years you logged in an industry, title, or company. If you have quantifiable results you can represent and reproduce, you can confidently charge more for your services or demand a higher salary. Always do your best to quantify your work, keep track of your wins, and have past bosses, coworkers and clients leave you reviews on social media, especially Linkedin.
Keep an eye on emerging jobs, industries, and skills that are rising in demand. Sometimes it can be as simple as taking a class or completing a certification to lead to a significant pay raise.
Once you've opened your mind to the possibilities, it's time to get to work and start your research so that you can put a clearer number down on paper when it comes down to negotiate your salary or agree to jump on a phone interview.
The next thing you'll want to do is grab a few pieces of paper and a pen and complete the following exercises:
Write down your work experience from the dawn of time to most recent. I find that writing this information down not only helps me actually complete the task, but it helps me remember my professional background in a more comprehensive way, which is great when it comes to explaining your job history in a job interview.
After you have a list of your full work history and experience written down in one place, start to organize your job history by relevance. What you're doing is creating multiple functional resumes based on the jobs and industries you'll be applying to. These can easily be personalized when it comes to applying for individual jobs or pitching clients.
Use this as a moment to audit your resume and Linkedin. Remove any jobs and experience that are no longer relevant. Remove your high school and college graduation years. Feel free to delete your internship history and entry level jobs. Eventually, these things truly don't matter and truthfully only risk you looking less experienced.
The final thing you need to do before researching your salary with my favorite resources is read relevant Linkedin profiles and job application postings online to become more familiar with job titles in your industry new and old.
Create a list of job titles that you're interested in applying to jobs in.
Create a list of industries you're most interested in working in.
Research and add job title variations to a list for when you're ready to job search and salary research.
Here's what popped up on Glassdoor's website when I searched "Content Specialist" in their job board.
Take note of the listed salary.
Here's what popped up on Glassdoor when I searched "Content Strategist" on their job board.
Notice the salary range difference?
Now that's not to say just because you've found a job title that's similar to yours, you're suddenly qualified to do the job. But wouldn't you be interested in what the difference of these jobs included if you were currently in the first position?
Here's what you should do if you're in this position:
Read through job descriptions of variations of your job title
Check what skills you currently have that are relevant to the job.
Write down and research the necessary skills or career path you'd have to take to land this job.
Read various job applications for this role as the requirements may vary and you may have skills that are easily transferable.
Create a list of job titles you're ready to move forward applying to jobs with.
Now that you're ready to move forward and research your salary, here's how to do so. By the way, if you know of up to date resources that you'd like me to add to this list, feel free to comment below.
I highly recommend that you use is Glassdoor it is an incredible resource that I've been using for years and it's pretty comprehensive. You can read anonymous company reviews that detail what it’s like interviewing and working at a company. There are listings of salaries and benefits along with exact questions asked during an interview.
Use the Know Your Worth Salary Tool by Glassdoor. This tool is also free and helps you determine your estimated salary based on personalized profiles and determining factors in your experience history.
Use the Linkedin Salary Tool. Similar to the Glassdoor job salary function, Linkedin recently launched a similar competing product. Their tool allows you to search salaries based on job titles and locations.
Use the Linkedin Job Search to discover salary ranges. Sometimes employers include salary information on the original job postings. Make a few searches in different job boards to find this information. I'm always surprised by what you can learn by reading a full job listing.
Search your job title and location into Payscale to get more information on your expected pay range. This tool is also, free.
Use the Indeed Salary Research Tool. It's pretty similar to what's described above, but it's always good to have another reference.
Use the Buffer Salary Calculator. This one doesn't have too much functionality, but I wanted to shout this one out since it's relevant to anyone working in tech or remote as that's their focus.
Search Google Jobs and read listings. Google recently launched their job board, check it out.
A few other resources you can use for insights, information, and data are the following:
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or equivalent in your country.
Read Reddit threads or start a thread on the topic.
Also, when in doubt and only after you've done your research, reach out to someone you know for a clear insight. When relevant, you can ask the following people in your network to find out more salary information:
Ask a friend.
Ask a recruiter.
Ask someone in your network.
A few other questions you should consider while researching your salary are:
How are competitive companies within your industry paying their employees with the same or similar job titles?
What is the average salary in your city and state for your role? Seniority? Years of experience?
What other jobs can you land with your current skill set?
What is the national average salary for this position?
Is there a certain skill set that's becoming more in demand in your industry?
Once you're confident in your research and findings, organize your research in one central place. Then use the following guidelines to create guidelines for your salary and work expectations:
What will you not leave your current position for?
What are you aiming for in a job, duties, industry, and salary?
What is the lowest you are realistically able to negotiate down to
How much money do you need?
How much do you want?
What’s your budget?
What's the lowest you’re willing to accept for a job?
Is this an industry change or a job title change?
What’s important in your new job? Money? Time? Environment? Benefits? Social?
Keep all of your information, findings, and goals in one central place. Refer to them daily when getting ready to complete research, fill out a job application or update your resume.
This will help you apply to the right opportunities and weed out the wrong ones so that you're putting your energy into finding the best opportunities for you.
As always, if you like this advice, I share my best tips on negotiating your salary, finding a job you love, growing your network and working remotely in my Workforce Survival Guide.
What resources do you use to research a salary in 2019? Comment below.