By Rob Pritchett
When it comes to negotiating your pay at work, you’ve got to arm yourself with current salary data and research or you could be selling yourself short. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best negotiation skills in the world—if you don’t know what comparable professionals in your industry are earning, you won’t know where to begin.
Of course, there are popular comparison websites like Salary.com and Payscale, but you can improve your chances of getting a higher salary by taking your research efforts further. Check out these five lesser known resources for salary research.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces the Occupational Outlook Handbook each year, which offers details on pay for different occupations. Filters allow you to break down your search by median pay or level of education. You can also get information on the number of projected new jobs and growth rates, two key stats that can serve you well in your negotiations.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
If you want more detailed information, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also produces reports on national wages, breaking down the data by region, state and metropolitan area. This is a great way to get salary information about your position, specifically in your locale. If you’re considering a move or job transfer, this can help you figure out how your salary may change.
Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management has something called the Compensation Data Center, where you can buy reports on salary research if you’re a paid subscriber. These reports are based on either job level, function or specific position. A professional membership costs $185 per year, or $35 if you’re a student.
National Association of Colleges and Employers
Although this resource is generally directed toward recent college graduates, the National Association of Colleges and Employers does offer a job seeker calculator to anyone. Simply enter your state of residence, region, years of relevant work experience and level of education to get customized median salary results.
Your State’s Department of Labor
There’s no sense in quoting the average national salary for your position when pay patterns specific to your location may differ significantly. Most states offer information about the local labor market and economic conditions as well as average weekly wages broken down by county and industry.
Dice Salary Survey
Last but certainly not least, investigate the Dice Salary Survey, which features average tech salaries in various metropolitan areas, sortable by job title and employment type. In addition, there’s a rather extensive section on average salaries based on technology skill.
Now that you have more weapons in your arsenal for salary research, let’s talk about effective ways to negotiate. If you’re asked to give a proposed salary figure, don’t state a specific number. Instead, offer a pay range. Let the person on the other side of the desk throw out the first figure. If you can’t get your prospective employer to budge on salary, try negotiating extras, like more time off, a flexible schedule or telecommuting. Salary research is important, but so is fine-tuning your negotiation skills so you can make the most of your research.
Rob Pritchett, a writer for Money Crashers, produces tips for job hunting, career advancement, and technology.
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