Can You Get Paid What You’re Worth?

Salary is often a touchy and contentious subject in a job search, as well as after you land a new job. Like many job seekers, you’ve probably struggled with how to get a reasonable idea about what salary you should be targeting for the position you’re after. This is especially aggravating since employers seem to consider it a closely held secret on their end but something you should freely communicate on yours!

A warped double-standard, if there ever was one.

So what about sources that purport to provide you with worthwhile information to help you determine what the going rate might be, such as Glassdoor.com?

Unverifiable Salary Information Worse Than Nothing

According to Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter), Glassdoor.com provides information that’s basically worthless, and he doesn’t expect you to take his word for that. Here’s what he recently shared on his blog, including a direct quote from Glassdoor:

“Glassdoor itself is clear in its Terms of Use that it doesn’t stand by anything posted by users or employers — that is, all its salary and company reviews:

“Because we do not control such Content, you understand and agree that: (1) we are not responsible for, and do not endorse, any such Content, including advertising and information about third-party products and services, job ads, or the employer, interview and salary-related information provided by other users; (2) we make no guarantees about the accuracy, currency, suitability, reliability or quality of the information in such Content; and (3) we assume no responsibility for unintended, objectionable, inaccurate, misleading, or unlawful Content made available by users, advertisers, and third parties.”

Wow! And yet job seekers continue to check this unreliable source for data they can base their job search and salary negotiations on!

Getting Paid What You’re Worth

How can you hit your salary target if you don’t know what it is or should be?

Finding out what salary you should be targeting for your next job isn’t for the faint of heart. Not only do employers shut the door on full disclosure but also many people don’t want to talk or share information about the subject in any meaningful way. The unpalatable truth is that most of us aren’t likely to gain access to genuine salary information because we don’t have a pipeline that will get us there.

Discouraging as that might sound, it’s an important fact to acknowledge. As long as you’re planning your job search and job interview preparation (including salary negotiation) using unreliable salary information, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. The trick is to get a good sense of the value you can offer the employers you’re targeting and at least try to determine how “special” that value is likely to be to them.

For example, how many job seekers can offer what you can–the type and rarity of your value that make you stand out–and how well can you articulate that to prospective employers? You need to be able to make a case for distinctive value, not a copycat, lots-of-people-have-it approach.

Just don’t count on information from sources that refuse to stand behind what they share. I can almost guarantee it will cost you! 

Remember, if you undersell your value at the job interview/job offer stage, you’ll be paying for that shortfall as long as you’re with the company, because future increases–including possible raises and bonuses–will be based on the starting salary. Do your best to determine what you’re worth to the company–what you can do for it that others can’t or won’t–and then refuse to settle for less.

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