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Maximize your earning potential by knowing the market.


Researching compensation relevant to the industry and type of position you're pursuing is a critical part of the job search process. Many factors affect compensation, including:

  • Industry
  • Type of employer
  • Salary range established by the company for the position
  • Your current compensation
  • Company size
  • Benefits offered
  • Corporate philosophy
  • Competition in the field
  • Geographic location
  • The skill set you bring to the job

To the extent possible, find information that correlates with your education and experience level. Also, be sure to:

  • Consider cost of living when comparing positions in different geographic areas.
  • Look for similar job listings that mention salary range.
  • Review business and trade journals, and contact professional associations.
  • Ask your networking contacts what their companies pay employees with your experience.

Learn to negotiate and determine fair compensation.

An abundance of helpful salary information is available on the Internet, but be sure to use this research merely as a benchmark.

  • Never cite a salary survey when negotiating your own compensation. You may talk your way right out of a job.
  • Ask what range of salary the company is prepared to pay for the position. Then provide reasons (educational background, professional experience) why you merit the high end of the range.
  • If asked what you currently make, be honest. It's a legitimate question. If you try to avoid answering directly, you may reduce your chance of securing the job offer.
  • Communicate your most marketable points and your salary expectation. For example, you can say, "I currently earn $35,000 per year. Because I've now completed my degree, have two years' experience in the field, and have managed a large staff, my salary expectation is now $38,000 to $45,000."
  • Let the company make the initial salary offer. After this, either accept the offer or formulate a salary negotiation strategy. Such negotiations can be risky, so consult your career services advisor before attempting to negotiate.
  • Salaries cited in many surveys are often just median figures, meaning half of those surveyed make more, half make less.

Want to learn more? The following offer valuable insight into salary trends and ranges: