When you’re looking for a job – especially if it is your first job – any amount of money you see offered might seem like a lot.
After all, you have no experience; how could you even expect more, right?
Well, not really.
Even if you’ve been working in a company for quite a while, there is a chance that your salary could be higher, and that’s why in this article I will provide you with all the information you need regarding what you’re earning, versus what you should be making.
Here’s exactly what awaits you down below:
- How to know what salary range to expect while you’re looking for jobs
- Taking a critical look at your current earnings, if you are employed
- What to do if you realize that you should be earning more than you do
- Answers to frequently asked questions about Salary Expectations
Let’s dive in and find out whether your earnings fully represent your abilities.
Managing Salary Expectations Before Getting The Job
As I’ve already said, when you’re still in the stage of the job search, any number can seem good enough.
You are probably surrounded by numerous salary ranges that actually don’t tell you that much.
After all, how could you possibly know where you deserve to fall between $50,000 and $150,000, which is a range that we often see on job listings?
Here are the 3 best ways that you should go when trying to figure out just how big of a salary you deserve.
Consider Your Qualifications
Being conscious of all your achievements and having all of the things you’ve done before you are the first step you need to take when thinking about how much you’re worth. It will be way harder for other people to underestimate you when you know that.
Before the interview process starts, and even before you get any kind of a job offer, be sure to sit down and list all of the accomplishments that you’ve made in the past. Of course, you should make sure that they are relevant to the job applications you plan on sending out.
If you have been an avid user of LinkedIn and you have a profile there, then having all of your accomplishments and certifications in one place won’t be that hard of a task.
You might not be sure how the value of some of the things you’ve done, especially in the contest of your job title, and how you might compare to other job seekers.
What you should do in this situation is look at the job requirements once again.
If you have a high level of experience in all of the things that are required, then your market value can be considered high, and therefore you probably have a chance to be in the higher half of the salary range.
Your potential employer probably knows that, and it’s good to remind them.
If you have a college degree, then you probably have somewhat of an image in your head about how you compare to other people in the same branch.
Consider that as well when you’re trying to answer salary expectation questions yourself.
When I say qualifications, I, of course, don’t mean only the things that you’ve previously done as a job, or only what educational background you come from.
Things like your skills, interests, as well as activities done outside of the work environment, should all be considered when considering a starting salary.
Finally, the cost of living is a factor that you should never forget to include when thinking about what your desired salary is.
Besides being able to see what you should expect from your salary, you will know what principles a company holds by how close their payments are to the minimum wage.
If you find a specific number regarding people’s salary history, and it has been on the lower end all the time, then you should use that salary information as a sign that this might not be the company you want to work at.
This indicates a lack of understanding for their employees, and you certainly don’t want to have to deal with that.
Use The Internet To Your Advantage
The easiest and most popular way to get information about companies and work conditions nowadays is going to the Glassdoor website.
Just in case you are in the minority that isn’t familiar with it, Glassdoor is a website where current or former employees anonymously leave reviews about their work experiences in a variety of companies.
When you go on there, you can see what perks there are to working for this company, what the hiring process can be like, how people are treated, and whether a fair salary is a common occurrence or something that’s frowned upon by the superiors.
Of course, you will be able to find solid numbers, too.
If you are not looking for a specific company but rather would simply like to see what you can expect for your profession, then it’s best to look at a wide variety of companies that have positions like the one you’re trying to get.
When you see how someone in the same role as yours is getting paid in a variety of companies, you will know what the average salary you can expect is.
Besides this, you can definitely look up people of the same profession on LinkedIn and see whether there are some that have spoken openly about the money they are making.
Finally, if you have a specific job listing that you want to apply to, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look up what others with that same role are giving out as the average salary.
This might be the crucial thing to do, as the higher salary elsewhere could be a good argument for why you should get a higher salary in your company of choice.
Another great Internet creation that you have to consider is salary calculators.
Yes, that exists, and it can give you solid answers.
While doing only that might not be sufficient enough research, going to Salary.com and Payscale.com will give you solid answers that you can use when you go to your interview, as you will be asked about specific numbers.
While talking about money is still considered taboo by people, especially older people, things are changing among Millenials, and especially Gen Z.
If you’re freshly out of college, it’s very likely that your peers will be more than willing to talk to you about how much they’re earning.
If you have people from the same career path that you hang out with, try to mention this during a conversation, test the waters out, and see how they react.
Most likely, they will be excited to discuss the subject, as they are probably in the same boat as you are.
Again, using the Internet to your advantage can also be useful in this aspect.
If you have online friends that are of a similar age to you or work in the same industry as the one you wish to be in, then absolutely mention this dilemma of yours.
With the Internet as a buffer, it’s much easier to talk about things that might be considered taboo.
Since you can’t actually see the people on the other end of the conversation, the chances that any of you will become nervous are minimal.
Gathering information this way will not only be useful to you but to them as well, as they too can use it to negotiate their salaries.
Suppose all people from your profession are agreeing that you deserve more and are demanding higher salaries.
In that case, that will send a message to the hiring manager and the recruiter team that things are changing on a larger scale.
Talking about such things can only bring more benefits to you and your colleagues, as money being taboo only benefits the people in the highest positions.
If you don’t know that people like you are being paid more than you, then you won’t have an argument for asking for a higher salary.
If you meet some people during the job interview process, don’t be opposed to making contact with them and staying up to date with interview questions and similar things.
Also, you can always use them as a source of information regarding how things stand in your area of expertise.
And finally, if you know people who are a few years older than you and are already working in the positions that you are getting ready to work in, make sure that you ask them everything they know.
They can be an insider for how things really are behind the scenes.
This will not only help in shaping your salary expectations, but it will also serve as an insight into what you can expect at your new job.
Who knows, maybe that reveals some type of deal-breaker, and you might change your mind altogether.
How Do You Know If You’re Being Paid The Amount You Deserve
When you work in the same position for a prolonged amount of time, and you are able to cover all of your costs swiftly, going up the career ladder might be in the back of your mind.
You might see it as something not worth your attention, as you probably have more important things to deal with right now.
However, that’s not the best way to go around your career.
While getting a raise in your monthly earnings is a great thing, negotiating for a higher salary has more benefits than that.
Getting into a higher position shows that you are still competitive and willing to improve your knowledge and skills, meaning that your market value as a worker will rise.
It can also bring you some additional benefits, like vacation days or a compensation package for different things you might be doing.
Looking into this information and being up to date with your profession will also indicate how well your company is treating you.
If things have changed in the market considering your role, and your company is keeping your salary on the same level as it was when you started, then that is a signal for action.
Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About Money
Like it was maybe uncomfortable to talk about earnings before you got the job, it will probably still be once you are in the position for quite some time. It might be especially uncomfortable to bring up that subject with your co-workers.
And that’s exactly what you should do.
People have a tendency to think that just because someone is in a similar role in their company, they must be paid the same as them.
In reality, it’s very likely that even the person in the same position as yours isn’t paid the same as you.
While job candidates are told the same information about salary requirements and how much someone in their role is getting paid, the way that this number progresses during the years of experience is not the same for everyone.
Some of your co-workers might have done some additional work that you weren’t aware of, and they might have a different set of tasks that your boss values more, or they might have taken upon themselves to have some kind of salary negotiations at some point.
You might be the lowest paid person in the office without even knowing.
So, the first step will be to bring the subject up when you’re chatting with your co-workers.
Make it casual and spontaneous, just another thing that you chat about during the lunch break.
And while some might keep everything to themselves, I assure you that there are people on your team who are very excited to talk about this.
Who knows, you might even come up with a solution together.
Like I’ve already said, being transparent about your earnings, especially among the people that you work with, can only bring good things to all of you.
So you should definitely not be afraid to strike this up, as it will probably go over well if your colleagues are of a similar age as you.
After you’ve done your investigation at the workplace, be sure to take the next step to people from the same profession as yours, working in different companies.
Maybe your whole friend circle is formed of people like that, in which case this will be a piece of cake.
If you have some college friends or acquaintances that you know are in the same branch as you, feel free to send them a message and ask them out for a coffee or lunch.
Again, networking and gaining information like this could only be beneficial to both of you.
Another factor contributing to the amount you’re being paid, besides your role and qualifications, is your location.
That’s why you should definitely discuss this not only with people that work the same thing as you but with people from your immediate circle in general.
Be Up To Date With The Job Market
After having a job for a certain amount of time, you probably haven’t been visiting websites that offer job listings.
You aren’t looking for a job, so why bother?
Well, knowing how much people are currently being paid for your position will give you a great insight into where things are standing.
Their starting salary might be higher than yours when you started your current job, but if you have years of experience and your salary is still the same, that’s your sign to do something.
When people are not informed about things like this, it’s easy to fall under the radar and work for less than you should be.
And if you don’t show any signs of dissatisfaction, your management doesn’t have any reason to change your salary and raise it.
Besides looking at job listings, be sure that you have a professional network, like LinkedIn, where you will gain insight into what’s going on with your profession in broader terms.
All of this will massively change how you value your work.
Looking up the salary calculators that I previously mentioned is also a great idea if you want to have even more exact answers.
By using them, you will have facts that take into account both your location and your expertise.
What To Do If You Could Be Earning More
If you’ve done your research and come to the conclusion that yes, you do earn less than you should, there are basically 2 main routes that you can go for.
The first is to try to change the situation while remaining in the same position, and the second is the one that you should pull if the first one doesn’t go well – change your job.
Let’s see how you should go about this.
Salary negotiations aren’t so simple that everything can be said in a few paragraphs, but there are definitely some basics that you can gather from here, as well.
The first thing you should do when you decide to negotiate your salary is to do your research and consider your qualifications.
You’ve already done that on the way here, so you can say that you have the first step down.
After having your facts straight, the second step is arranging a meeting with your manager or whoever is responsible for financial questions in your company.
The best way to do this is to send an email asking for a meeting.
When you do write your email, you don’t have to explicitly say what you wish to discuss in the meeting, and you can simply say that you wish to talk about your position in the company.
They will probably agree to that and will tell you what time works for them.
While you’re writing the email, and once you go to the meeting, be sure that you work on your performance.
Being nervous is normal, but be sure not to give out too much of that.
Staying calm, collected, and most importantly assertive and straightforward is the way to go, and it will most likely get you far.
Remember, you’ve done your research, and you know that you deserve to be paid more; no one can tell you otherwise.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Change
If you had your meeting, and your request for a raise has been rejected, maybe it’s time to reconsider your job altogether.
Again, you did do your research, and you know that there are places where you could be paid more, so why not?
While being loyal to your company and staying there as long as you can, is how our parents have done things, and how they want us to do things, that simply isn’t the case nowadays.
While being a good employee is important, putting yourself first should always be a priority.
So, maybe it’s time that you go back to those job listings you stumbled upon while doing your research and apply to a few of them.
Of course, you shouldn’t resign from your job right after the meeting, but keeping your options open is never a bad idea, no matter how long you’ve been working somewhere.
How do you answer Salary Expectations?
In almost every job interview, the recruiters will like to ask you what your Salary Expectations are, and it seems like the right answer to this question doesn’t exist.
In most people’s eyes, whichever answer you give is the wrong one.
However, your answer to this question should be backed up by research.
If you’ve done your research before applying for a job, then you know what the average salary is, and you know how salaries go in your location.
Use that knowledge to come up with a number that is satisfying to you.
Just don’t say something vague or that it’s not your priority. We all know that it is, and in the business world, it should be.
How much should I make?
The amount you make is dependent on several different factors.
Things like your qualifications, location, and the position you’re applying for are the most important.
Before you apply for jobs, be sure to do your research about how much people with your qualifications are averagely paid, as well as where do salaries for your role stand.
Finally, make sure to research what the average salaries are for your specific location.
To help with this, you can use any of the popular salary calculator websites, so you will have at least some insight into what you can expect.
What are the benefits of having a high salary?
While a high salary has the obvious benefit of more money in your bank account, it usually comes with some additional benefits.
When you get a raise, you also usually get some more perks, as well as more time off and vacation days.
More importantly, a growing salary is a sign that you’re moving up in your career and that you’re not stagnant.
Having a career path that is mainly made out of going upward is something that you should aspire to have and work towards it.