3 Vital Tools for a Salary Search

These 3 resources are essential for determining your worth.

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Whether you're looking for your next job or your next promotion, you have an idea of what you'd like to be paid. But is the figure you're thinking of realistic? These tools will help you know exactly what you're worth, based on your experience, skills, and location.

[See The Best Jobs of 2012.]

Salary Calculators

While they're not exact, salary calculators can give you an idea of what a particular role is paid in your city or another geographic area. When searching for jobs online, you can use this number against job descriptions and rule out any that fall far below it.

Keep in mind that your actual pay depends on your specific skills, the geography, the role's responsibilities, what the company can afford to pay, and sometimes, how much the company values the role.

  • PayScale.com is a popular tool that takes information about you (your job experience, where you graduated from college, etc) to determine a targeted salary range for the position you're researching.
  • Salary.com provides a comprehensive list of any and every position in a field, as well as required skills and salary details. You can compare different levels of a role (such as Accountant I, II, and III) to see where your skills position you.
  •  Salary Seeking Suggestions: You can use these salary calculators for a variety of research. If you're interested in starting a new career, they're great tools to help you know which jobs fit what you're looking for financially. If you are angling for a raise, calculators can help show you what others are making, which helps build your case for a raise to your boss. If you're on the job hunt, you can see where to start with salary negotiations.

    [See When to Talk About Salary.]

    GlassDoor

    Rather than generic salary estimations, GlassDoor provides actual salaries for actual positions within companies.

    You can perform your search based on your position and location to find out what the actual companies in your area are paying as reported by previous and current employees. The site also provides information on the bonuses paid at a given company.

    This is a great resource to arm yourself with before going into an interview where you'll have to discuss your salary requirements.

    Salary Seeking Suggestions: If you're looking at a role at a particular company, this site will help you find out exactly what the employer is paying for the role for which you're applying, putting you in a better negotiating position.

    [See How to Kill a Job Offer at the Last Minute.]

    Recruiters

    Who better to ask what you're worth than job recruiters who know your industry inside and out? An industry-specific recruiter can quickly assess your experience and let you know the typical going rates for a given role.

    Recruiters can also give you an idea of what other forms of compensation are typical in the industry and what you should expect if you were to make a change. Consider working with a recruiter as a long-term partnership. While he may not have the perfect position for you as soon as you are looking, he is someone who can arm you with information and ideas to help progress your career.

    Salary Seeking Suggestions: Determine your minimum acceptable salary requirement. In the event that the recruiter gives you the feedback that you're aiming too high with what you really want to be paid, you know you can safely apply for jobs down to that number. You may need more experience than you've got to command a higher salary at most companies. Just because a friend got lucky and received a 20 percent increase when making a change, doesn't mean that's the norm.

    Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

    Twitter: @PRJobs

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    salaries

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