Determine how much you should earn

19 Nov 2018

5 Ways to Determine How Much you Should Make

Figuring out how much you should make is not a simple prospect.  There are a lot of resources available that make it sound like it should be easy to determine pay.  Be wary.

The fact of the matter is that it is not possible to account for all of the circumstances involved. Geographic location and  level of experience is a good starting point.

Determine how much you should be making

Determining the value a human being offers is not a matter that algorithms or HR surveys can measure. The real answer to how much you should make is slightly less than what your employer believes your value to be.

1. Online Salary Comparisons

There is no shortage of salary information online.  Use these free sites to get a rough baseline idea of what you should be paid based on your area of expertise and the cost of living in a specific geographic area.  The best 4 sites to use are, Glassdoor, and  Each of these will give you a decent ballpark of what your value on the employment market.  Check all 4 and take an average of the results to get even more accurate.

2. US Federal Government Statistics

In addition to the private salary websites, utilize information provided by the US Government to get more perspective about how much you should make.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics website not only provides statistical median compensation for most occupations they also provide a 10-year growth outlook and total number of jobs available.  This is all great intel when working to determine your value.

3. Contact a Recruiter  Contact a Recruiter

A good specialized agency recruiter will have their finger on the pulse of the employment market.  Recruiters are easy to find because they make a point in being easily found.  Check Yelp and run a Google search for recruiting firms and you will probably find several that work with professionals in your line of work.

Find a recruiter that works in your specific industry.  Many agencies publish industry-specific salary guides that is based on the real compensation information from the placements they have recently made.  This free information might provide much more timely information compared to the large national websites.

Even if the recruiting firm does not provide a salary report it is worth your time to place a call.  If the recruiter knows your space they will know approximately how much you should make.  Recruiters make their living by networking with professionals like you. They will be happy to speak with you and share helpful information.

For more detail about working with recruiting agencies read my article 7 things you should know before you work with a recruiter.

4. Search Job Postings

Even if you are not seeking new employment job sites can provide great compensation information.  The biggest general job board sites will have the most info so start with LinkedIn Monster, CareerBuilder and Indeed.  If you can find a job board site that caters to your industry it might be an even better resource.

Find 2 or 3 jobs in your city on each of these sites that you are qualified for that have compensation information listed.  Take an average of 8 or 10 jobs with compensation listed.  This will provide even better idea of what employers are paying in the current market.

5. Ask a Mentor How Much You Should Be Making

If you are fortunate enough to have a professional mentor ask them about compensation.  They were in your role not too long ago and can share a unique perspective.

If you do not have a mentor it’s easy to connect with professionals with 5-10 more years of experience than you on LinkedIn.  Seek them out and include a message letting the know you consider them a senior professional in your field and that you’d appreciate some advice.  LinkedIn makes it easy for them to connect and most people are very happy to help.

Figuring out how much you should make is a tricky prospect.  There are too many variables to rely on the information easily found on popular employment websites.  Even if accurate, the market changes constantly with the economy.  By using these 5 tips and doing a little research you will be in a much more informed position.  You will always negotiate more effectively when you are informed.

I love to hear from you!  Feel encouraged to send me a private message about your compensation or anything else career-related.

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JT Driscoll
JT Driscoll has helped more than 3,000 professionals advance their careers. Recognized as one of the most accomplished employment experts in the United States, he built 3 successful recruiting firms before launching Hire Guide. Connect with JT on LinkedIn or Facebook to receive practical employment tips. Feel free to send him a message about your career.