One of the easiest ways to find out salary information is online. There are websites that offer solid salary information, including:
Bureau of Labor Statistics (wage data by area and occupation)
Occupational Outlook Handbook (click on a specific job and look at the “Pay” section)
CareerOneStop Salary and Benefits Information
U.S. Office of Personnel Management Salaries & Wages (federal salary information)
Salary.com (offers free data and personalized salary reports for a fee)
PayScale.com (requires you to contribute data in order to receive information)
Glassdoor.com (requires you to contribute data in order to receive information)
SalaryExpert.com (input your information and it creates a salary report)
JobSmart Salary Surveys (site can be hard to navigate, but offers links to industry-specific salary surveys)
National Association of College and Employers
(annual summary of employment outlook and starting salaries for new graduates)
Robert Half International Salary Guides (accounting, finance, financial services, technology, legal, creative positions, administrative jobs)
Indeed.com also offers salary information in general and for specific businesses and organizations on their Company Pages:
You can also do a Google search for “average salary for (job title).” This can sometimes lead you to more specific salary data for a profession.
When using sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com, compare job responsibilities, not job titles. A job title can mean different things at different companies.
If you are relocating, part of your research should include cost-of-living adjustments. You can use the CNN Money Calculator (http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/) to assess differences between cities.
It can also help to understand what a prospective employer considers when offering a salary. The employer may evaluate:
- the level of the job within the organization
- the scarcity of the skills and experience needed for the job in the job market
- the career progression and experience of the individual selected
- the fair market value of the job you are filling
- the salary range for the job within your organization
- the salary range for the job within your geographic area
- the existing economic conditions within your job market
- the existing economic conditions within your industry
- company-specific factors that might affect the given salary, such as comparative jobs, company culture, pay philosophy, and promotion practices.
How to Handle a Request for Salary on Application Forms
You may be asked salary information on an application form — or be faced with a “current salary” or “desired salary” field on an online application. The answer you provide may be used in the screening process — answer too high and you may not be considered for the position at all. This number will also likely come into play at the interview/offer stage — it can establish the range for the offer the company makes.
On a paper application form — or if the online form allows you to type in whatever you want — you can write “Negotiable.” This gives you the opportunity to discuss your salary history and expectations later.
If it’s not a required field on an online form, leave it blank. If the “desired salary” field requires you to enter a figure, however, you have a couple of options:
- Enter $0, $1, or $10 (the minimum number you can) — it will be clear you’re not answering the questions (most employers will know you aren’t offering to work for free).
- Enter $999,999 (or the highest number you can). Like answering $0, this shows you are purposely avoiding the question.
- If you can, enter a range — some online forms will allow you to enter two numbers.
- You can enter your desired salary — but know that it may lead to you being screened out (if it’s too high), or being offered a lower salary in the interview (if it’s too low).