What Are You Worth?

Ever read a job description asking you to “include your salary requirements”? Did you immediately think to yourself, I have NO idea what I should be asking for?  While you might feel like you are an invaluable asset, the fact is that most people have a very unclear idea of what they are professionally worth. A lot of students

have no idea where to start and lack the confidence to try. Surveys show that as many as 45% of new grads fail to negotiate their first offer. By not negotiating your salary you can lose nearly a million dollars of earnings over the course of your career!

I don’t want to go into detail about how to negotiate your first job offer. But I do want to highlight ways in which you can start arriving at a reasoned figure:

  1. Do your research. There is a lot of good salary information available online as long as you go to reputable sources. I recommend Glassdoor.com, NACE Salary Calculator, and Salary.com.  You enter or browse for a job title, list the location of the job, and then you’ll get salary data including the low, high and median figures. Each site offers unique features, for example, the NACE site has student’s identify their university knowing that earning potential can vary by the prestige and reputation of the institution. Glassdoor, on the other hand, can pinpoint salary data according to the position and the employer. I would highly recommend that you consult with all three.
  2.  Inventory your skills, experience and knowledge. Did you learn a unique lab skill? Did you study abroad or become conversational in a second language? Or maybe you landed a competitive internship? You are in a position to leverage those skills, experiences and knowledge, especially if they are highly valued by the employer. If you possess something unique from other candidates, than you can ask for more than the average salary amount.
  3.  Know the company and industry. A graphic designer will earn more in a top communications firm than working for a non-profit agency.  So keep things in perspective and consider the company culture, opportunities for advancement and other key considerations.

Learning about salary information will help you gain confidence about approaching the whole interview and negotiation process.  And it will also give you an answer the next time you see a job announcement mention those pesky “salary requirements.”