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“What am I worth?”
worthy question, to be sure.  Simple though it may sound, it is a question we face every day in different ways.  What am I worth to my friends?  What am I worth in terms of wealth?  What am I worth to my employer?  This question, most of all, is the one I want to focus on today: how do I determine my worth to an employer, and how should I negotiate my salary to reflect that worth?

As an imminent graduate, I found myself wishing there was “an app for that.”  So I started browsing the internet for something that could gauge my prospects, as it were.  I wanted it to factor in a lot of elements, like: local market strength, size of the prospective organization (number of employees, annual revenue, average salary of existing staff, etc.), years of experience and education, job title(s), career outlook, expected responsibilities…I wanted it to be comprehensive.  I started to realize: this is not as easy as I thought!  Whoever can put that kind of smartphone app together deserves some kind of prize in programming and mathematics.

However, I did find a lot of other options out there for anyone who is looking for some way to leverage their abilities, education and experience into a fair and equitable salary.

Most options offer a personalized report (many charge a fee), but they also often have a free option, although some are better than others.  Personally, I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to shell out the money for a more detailed report, but I am open to suggestions anyone else has and welcome the additional resources:

PayScale.com
This website is awesome and super comprehensive—just be ready to answer quite a few questions about the organization (or the one you want to work for) and their general operations.  However, it’s well worth the time, because they will not only generate a very balanced report of your expected income and earning potential, but they will also tell you what degrees can boost your worth, show you job listings in your field, and even suggest the best places to live on the projected salary.

LiveCareer.com
My favorite aspect of this website is how comprehensive even the FREE report is.  With many of the other calculators, the free reports they offer are a few very basic graphs and the least amount of info possible.  LiveCareer.com’s report, however, had 21 pages of fairly interesting, mostly relevant information.  If I were going to purchase a full report from anyone, at this point, I’m leaning most toward LiveCareer.com, based on my appreciation of how thorough they were with the free report.

I also recommend just looking through About.com and eHow.com for some great resources on everything from interviewing to dressing the part.  Also look for tips on negotiating salary, so you can not only learn how to determine what you’re worth, but also make sure you get it!

Remember: don’t undersell yourself.  You’re more valuable than you may realize.

And happy hunting!

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2 thoughts on “A Question of Worth

  1. Determining what you are worth is a really wield and scary thing to do. I wonder how accurate these sites really are and how they compare to what actual employers are willing to pay you. Yeah you might be worth that but you might not get a job because your expectations are too high and might sell your self short for not asking for enough.

  2. That’s absolutely true, Auri. Knowing what you’re worth is only part of the battle–you still have to be willing to fight for your worth. And every good tactician knows that it’s important to map your ‘plan of attack’ before engaging, so having a good idea of what kind of salary you might be able to ask for is a good place to start.

    Yes, many of these websites are only going to provide basic info–many of them post a disclaimer stating that their estimate is not a guarantee, just some basic math and educated guesswork. However, they also often offer a more personalized report, which can really investigate different aspects of your qualifications. Then it becomes a matter of knowing how to sell yourself as a valuable asset to your employer, and exactly how much those skills are worth.

    However, you raise some good questions, so maybe I should start working on a follow-up to that post…maybe one about reasonable expectations and negotiation tips.

    Thanks for your comment!

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