When I was in salary negotiations five years ago I was very concerned about getting an offer that was more or less than the other interns who were receiving offers.
Not surprisingly, interns shared information. When one intern received a slightly higher salary offer, it allowed me to also negotiate a slightly higher starting salary.
The main thing I took away from this experience was this:
The more data and insight you have into what other people are making in comparable jobs, the more leverage you have when you negotiate your salary.
Over the past decade the internet has played a huge role in giving employees leverage when it comes to salary negotiations.
No longer is salary and compensation information shared purely through word-of-mouth. Entire companies have been created with the sole purpose of helping people find and compare salary data.
With the wealth of salary data on the internet today it would be foolish to not review the salary data available for the company and position you are negotiating with.
Use Glassdoor to Find and Compare Salary Data
There are a couple of websites that are great for finding and comparing salary data. The two best sites are PayScale and Glassdoor. While PayScale is good, I think Glassdoor is by far the best option. From my experience it it’s easier to use than PayScale and has more salary data.
When you go to the Glassdoor website, you can quickly and easily search right from the home page.
For the sake of this example, let’s say I want to see what a financial analyst makes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Is simply plug these into the appropriate boxes and hit enter.
The first thing I see on the next page is a summary of the average financial analyst salaries, both nationally and for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
Notice that you can sort the companies by Popularity, Most Reports, and Salary. Obviously the more reports that are provided the more accurate the salary will be. Conversely, companies that have few salary reports are less reliable.
Seeing what specific jobs are paying at various companies can be extremely useful, especially for those looking to move to a different company or who are open to going to a new company if the compensation is significantly higher.
When I was negotiating my salary for my current position I greatly utilized Glassdoor. I utilized both company-specific data as well as looked at what other companies were paying comparable positions.
If a company is large enough there can be a wealth of valuable salary data available to you for the specific job you are negotiating for. This was unheard of just over ten years ago, where word-of-mouth was really the only way for a professional to gain this sort of information. Below is data for a specific financial analyst position at a specific company:
To utilize salary date in negotiations, be sure to do a few things:
- Never negotiate without researching
Never ever start salary negotiations without first doing your research. In the future I suspect employers will try to push salary negotiations when candidates are unprepared because it’s their only opportunity to have the upper hand. If this happens, do whatever you can to delay negotiations until you have done thorough research on comparable salaries.
- Use other company data to your advantage
Just because the average pay for a position you are looking at is $X, doesn’t mean you have to shoot for that salary. If the company’s average compensation is lower than comparable companies in your geographic area, make sure to mention that fact. Casually saying something like “the average pay for comparable positions at other companies is $Y, can we move closer to that amount?”
The worst that can happen is an employer saying that they have compensation policies at their company that do not allow them to go higher. If you are confident in your abilities and would have trouble getting paid less than what you could get (on average) at another company, stick to your guns.
- Don’t sell yourself short
If you’re armed with salary data both for the company you are negotiating with as well as other companies, shoot for a high salary. In an ideal situation you will shoot high and force the employer to compromise at an amount that you were happy with in the first place.
Additionally, try to avoid naming a salary figure first. Unfortunately some job applications require you to put your mandatory minimum. Be weary of setting that minimum too low, because you essentially are giving a number for the company to use in negotiations right off the bat. Thoroughly research salary data before filling in that box.
While we love to talk about side hustles and ways to make money outside of your 9-5, the reality is that if you can make more money while working similar hours it makes no sense to not fully capitalize on your 9-5 job. Making even $3,000 more per year can have a material impact on your finances.
Research salaries, arm yourself with data, and make sure you are getting paid a fair amount!
Have you ever used Glassdoor or a similar service to compare salary data? Do you think too many people go into salary negotiations without researching?