Negotiating salary - how to determine my desired salary


If a potential employer is interested in you for a particular position, you will likely be contacted by phone by someone in human resources (HR) who has been tasked with conducting a phone interview.

The purpose of this phone interview is to narrow down the list of 10-12 individuals whose resumes made it through the initial resume screening process down to 5-7 individuals who will be called in for face-to-face interviews.

In other words, the HR person’s objective with the phone interview or phone screen is to find a reason to weed people out.

One of the likely questions used to weed candidates out involves your desired salary.

If your desired salary is significantly above the employer’s salary range for the position, you will likely be eliminated from further consideration.

To avoid being weeded out for positions you are interested in, you need to research salary information for your target position to determine a realistic desired salary range.

6 ways to determine what you are worth

Are you unsure how to respond when asked about your salary requirements during an interview?

Are you wondering how to get what you’re worth during salary negotiations?

Do you know if you are being paid what you’re worth for your current job?

Would you like to learn how your salary compares to those of others in your position before your interview?

Here are six sources you can use to gather useful salary information:

1. Use an online Salary Calculator

2. Identify professional and trade associations

3. Identify industry publications

4. Look at online job postings

5. Contact recruiters and headhunters

6. Contact your college placement office or career center

Use the online salary calculator

This online Salary Calculator will provide you with salary information based on your desired job title and geographic area.

PayScale Salary Calculator

As an example, the Salary Calculator gives a typical salary for a Senior Product Manager, Software in Minneapolis, Minnesota of $104,191.

Professional and trade associations

Professional and trade associations often conduct annual salary surveys. Contact or go to the website of appropriate professional and trade associations to learn about salary survey information.

Here’s a free online directory you can use to identify appropriate professional and trade associations:


This directory lists several thousand associations from around the world by their primary professional/occupational focus and/or industry of interest and provides a link to the associated website.

Industry publications

Industry publications are another source of salary information. Research industry publications to identify appropriate annual salary surveys.

Here’s a free online directory of industry publications:

Online job postings

Online job postings, particularly those posted by recruiters and headhunters, often include salary information. Concentrate on reviewing job postings on the top career sites:

As an example, CareerBuilder has an Oracle Functional Analyst posting for a position in Des Moines with a stated salary of $70,000. Monster has an Instrument and Controls Engineer position in Long Island with a posted salary of $70-$85K.

Recruiters and headhunters

Another potential source of salary information is to contact recruiters and headhunters handling positions in your functional area, industry, and geography. They know first hand what employers are willing to pay. Be aware that recruiters and headhunters receive tons of phone calls each day and may not have the time to help you.

Here are two sources you can use to identify appropriate recruiters to contact:

Online Database of Recruiters

Recruiters Online Network

Recruiters Online Network offers a searchable online database of over 8,000 recruiters worldwide. You can search this database by career field and geography. There is no cost to you in performing a search. Once you have performed a search, you can select recruiters of interest to obtain their contact information.

Recruiters Online also allows you to post your resume and search job listings posted by recruiters.

Print Directory

If you prefer to use a print publication to identify recruiters, try The Directory of Executive Recruiters.

This print directory lists 14,200 recruiters in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Key information given in the directory includes industries covered, job functions covered, geography covered, and specialties covered by each recruiter. The directory also includes recruiter contact information with phone, fax, email, and web addresses.

Most public libraries will have a copy of the directory available in their reference section.

College placement office or career center

Your college placement office or career center is a great source of salary information for new graduates. They typically track the salaries new graduates receive. The placement office or career center may also be a source for alumni salary information or may have access to useful industry information.

Adjust salary for geography differences

Are you considering jobs in different cities? Are you planning to relocate for your new job? Before accepting a new position, be sure to determine how your salary compares in these different locations.

Use the Cost of Living Calculator to make these salary comparisons.

As an example, according to the Cost of Living Calculator, a salary of $125,000 in Los Angeles, California is equivalent to a $95,018 salary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

PayScale Cost of Living Calculator

After gathering salary information from several of these sources and adjusting the salary data for the cost of living in your desired geography, you will have the information you need to negotiate your salary requirements from a position of strength.

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