How about we start with a little bit of trivia?
Who said the following quote:
“…If you can get a raise and you don’t, you’re stupid..”
I’m sure you got it. It was Matt LeBlanc from one of my favorite shows ever, Friends. This was in relation to how the Friends cast were able to negotiate their salaries to a cool 1 million dollars per episode. Not bad, considering they started the series making just over 20 thousand dollars per episode!
Okay, before you read any further, I don’t think I can get you to 1 million dollars per anything, but I promise I’ll do what I can…
Although what Matt said was very simple, it is something that most Americans aren’t listening to, since most don’t negotiate their salaries!
One of the things that most people don’t realize is that they are severely underpaid. It is something that we don’t necessarily think about because we never discuss it with our peers or know figure out exactly what we should be making.
This is where I come in. I wrote this guide to show you exactly how to find out the salary that you deserve, the salary that you SHOULD be making.
After putting this guide to good use, I guarantee you will be angry. You will be pissed off. You will want to have negotiated your salary 5 years ago. But that’s good. That means you’ll have the information you need to convince you to negotiate your salary now. Not in 6 months, not in a year. But right now because you will know your worth, and you deserve to be paid what you’re worth.
Step 1: Find the Range
The first step in figuring out what your salary should be is to understand what the market rate is. The way this is presented online is by salary ranges since there is a wide array of skills, experience, and responsibilities from person to person.
After combing through countless websites and salary calculators, these are the top three that you should use for this initial research into what your salary should be.
PRO TIP: As you start looking at the different sources for salaries, make sure that you are checking the job descriptions instead of just the job title. The description should give you a good idea of whether the range you are looking at represents what you do. If it doesn’t, you can look at related job titles that may have a better representation of what you do. This is much more important than getting the job title exactly correct.
Glassdoor takes in salary and management reports from the users themselves. Glassdoor is especially useful when there is a good amount of data entered, making any one inaccurate entry less impactful.
It is especially helpful by offering you the National Average as well as the average in your city, which gives you insight into how your city fares in this industry. For example, for a Mechanical Engineer in Atlanta, GA, this was the result in seconds:
As you can see in the last paragraph, there have been 336 salaries submitted anonymously, so the data set is large enough for me to feel very comfortable with this range.
Payscale takes a much more in-depth approach to your salary information. This is important because it will calculate your salary range based on your specific factors.
The salary survey will begin by asking what your current situation is:
Then you will continue to input the important career details that the calculator needs to give you your salary report:
At the end, it will ask if you want to save your information, but you don’t need to!
Click on the link below the sign-up form that says “just show my salary report”:
Then, you get your salary report instantly. It takes a little more time to fill out the information, but the report is worth it to start seeing how your individual factors start to influence the salary range for your specific situation.
You will also notice that you put in your current salary if you are looking at your current position, so you’re able to quickly see how you compare to others in your profession:
Salary.com is another great resource. This site is especially useful to compare 3 different job titles – this is really nice when you are wearing multiple hats and have responsibilities that surpass just one job title:
Once you compare a few positions, it is simple to find the position that mostly fits your career track and find the salary report:
At this point, you should have at least 1-3 different sources for what your range should be.
Looking at the three results for a Mechanical Engineer, the following were the ranges that were found:
- Glassdoor.com: 58k – 98k
- Payscale.com: 57k – 88k
- Salary.com: 71k – 86k
As you can see, they fall within a similar range. I like to pick the range that fits my profile the best, and in this case, we will go with Salary.com, which is in between the two others.
PRO TIP: This is where you can use your own knowledge of your career to choose the highest range you can. As a top performer, and if you’re able to justify your value as we will discuss in the next step, don’t be afraid to choose the highest range that still fits your situation.
Step 2: Understand Your Value
Now that you’ve figured out your range, it is time to understand your value.
Your value is the single most important part of your salary negotiation and how you will justify the salary number that you want.
As mentioned above, the range that you found is based on many factors, including location, experience, responsibilities, and type of company. For example, a Mechanical Engineer working for a company of 50 employees in rural America will typically make less than an Engineer working for a huge global company in New York City. There is also a big difference between an Engineer that has 10 years of experience versus 2 years.
Whether you’re figuring out what you should be making in your current role or for a role that you’re interviewing for, there are the main factors to consider: experience, cost of living, skills/training, and your overall value. Your overall value can be defined in a few different ways.
For example, if you are looking at the salary in your current role, you can use how you’ve kicked ass in your current job to show your value. If you’re going to interview for a new job, you can show your value with a pre-interview project that shows your potential employer that you are a top performer that they can’t pass up on.
You can start to see how the factors affect you range visually by using a simple diagram as shown in the example below:
As you can see, for the first three categories, the Mechanical Engineer is hovering around the midway point, and their value is at the high end of the range.
The value that you bring to the table is unique and overshadows all other factors because that is the one that no one else can replicate and an employer can’t get with someone else. Knowing that you are doing an exceptional job at your current job, or showing your awesome problem-solving skills during the interview is what wins you the job and the salary that you want.
Step 3: Decide on the Salary You Deserve
Now that you’ve thought about the different factors and how you compare, it is time to choose the salary that you want.
A very simple way to do this is to essentially average the 4 categories. You have a lot of leeway here. Remember, your value is what will show through your negotiation, so let that factor weigh heavier than the others.
For the Mechanical Engineer, in this case, a good salary number to choose would be in between $82,000 – $84,000.
I recommend choosing a number that is not the exact number at the top end of the range, but rather, in the upper third of the range. That way you are opening up possibilities when you get into your negotiation and how you justify the salary, which will show that you are not being “greedy”, but you are also making sure you tell them that you should be paid as an above average performer.
Everyone’s situation is unique, so the most important thing to remember is that you will be selling your value, so as you think about that, pick a number that you feel comfortable picking due to the value that you bring, as well as the effect that the other factors have.
PRO TIP: I recommend that you choose one number, not a range. A range is an invitation for the employer to choose your lowest number. Have one number in mind and due to your research, you should feel confident that it is the salary you deserve.
Surprising, isn’t it? Most of us come out of this exercise feeling pissed off that we’re getting underpaid by this much. Not to worry, it is not too late to start earning the salary you want.
The next step is to come up with your game plan on how you will negotiate successfully and finally feel like you’re being paid fairly for the work you do.
If you’d like to get started and get the strategies you need to negotiate and GET PAID WHAT YOU DESERVE, sign up below! I look forward to helping you get your next massive raise.