Determining Your Market Value

Although I am still an undergrad, I often check job listings to get an idea of what companies expect entry-level applicants to know.  This gives me a better idea of what I want to learn from my mentor and pre-professional organizations.  Many of them ask for “salary requirements”, “salary history” or “desired salary”.  How can you possibly know as an entry-level applicant what you should be earning?  These numbers can be researched, and they should be before you answer this question.

Why do potential employers want to know?

Companies ask for this information for a number of reasons.  Although money is a typically private topic, your answer tells potential employers a lot about you that could make or break your efforts to get this position.  Primarily, they are using this number to determine your market value, so don’t sell yourself short.  Higher degrees, skill level and experience can increase your market value, so be sure to give yourself credit where credit is due.  This number will also let them know what type of salary you are expecting.  This number should be a range, and always remember this number is negotiable.  If you are over or underestimating your value by a few thousand dollars, you are not taking yourself out of the running but researchign can eliminate this issue.

If your range is significantly lower than the typical salary of the position, the employer is not going to offer you much more.  For example, if they typically offer $35,000 salary and the range you submitted is from $15,000-$20,000, they now have a leg up.  They probably feel as though if they offered you $25,000 you would be both surprised and greatful, but they are making out like bandits from this scenario in saving $10,000.  Had you declared a range from $35,000-$40,000 and you were exactly the right candidate, you may get offered slightly more than the typical salary for this position.

Is it wise to avoid answering this question entirely?

One strategy is to avoid answering the money question.  In doing this, you are completely avoiding two potential handicaps: not getting the interview because the company can not meet your salary needs or getting paid less than your market value.  Once you are granted the interview, you can discuss money in dialogue allowing for the most accurate information directly from the employer and a fast evaluation of your market value within the range the employer is willing to offer.

Beware.  There are some negatives to taking this approach.  You may not get the interview because of it.  Employers may not want to bother choosing instead to interview someone who listed an appropriate salary requirement.  It is also a possibility that the employer will not share the typical salary for the position you are applying to in an interview.  He or she may be weary of your approach and they may not be willing to answer the money question before you do.  In case this happens, make sure you researched your market value beforehand.

Resources for determining your market value

Below are some websites that will calculate your market value for you.

  •– This resource enables you to view other people’s salary based on their location, position and company.
  •– This website has a salary wizard where you can put in the location of the position and search for different sectors narrowing it down to the job title for which you are interested in applying.  Not only is the website current, but it provides job descriptions that can be used in lieu of the exact position (if you are unable to find it).
  • Consult with past employers and mentors to determine your value.
One Response to “Determining Your Market Value”
  1. Breanne says:

    Thanks for the information. On a couple of my job interviews, the interviewer asked me what I needed to make to keep-up my lifestyle and one asked what I expected to make. I had no idea what to tell them or how to find out an answer. This post helped me a lot.

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