Friday, June 30, 2006

Know your value in the market

The money question comes up early. Whether it's a formal application that demands a salary history or a simple question about salary requirements, sometimes The Number is a roadblock on the way to meaningful discussion of the position. Whether it comes up early or late, though, you need to know your value in the market.

You're a unique and priceless individual, of course. Mom was right. But when you're negotiating a new position, sooner or later you or the company will put a price on your contribution. A certain degree of information asymmetry is unavoidable—the recruiter knows the budget for the position, and you don't. You can, though, with just a little looking, find valuable information about what your job should pay.

Salary.com is the obvious starting place. They have high visibility from some well-placed partnerships, and they're a good source. You can also find more focused results from industry- or function-specific salary surveys, such as Computerworld's annual IT salary survey or Pragmatic Marketing's technology marketing and product management survey. JobStar links to more surveys, and you can always search for "salary" and relevant keywords to see what's out there for you. The best approach is to find similar numbers from multiple sources, to lend credibility to your position.

If you're considering relocating for a job, don't forget to compare the cost of living in your new city with your current city. I like the cost of living calculator at Sperling's BestPlaces, because of the other information they offer. Other calculators are easy to find at Salary.com, the major job boards, and other locations.

I'm adding this to the list of things to do before the interview, because it always comes up early in the process.

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