Finding out What You're Worth

Finding Out What You're Worth

by Judy Kaplan Baron, Ph.D.

(Judy Kaplan Baron offers career counseling in San Diego
 and throughout the United States)

As a professional career counselor, I help many people who get stumped when faced with the problem of assessing what they're worth in a particular job market.  Since I'm not sitting right there with you, I'm providing some bottom-line techniques that can help you.  But a word of caution, don't wait until the day before your interview to do your research.  Why? It'll cost you!

Here are some resources that can help:

(1)  There's a website called JobSmart ( which offers 60+ online salary surveys.

(2) PinPoint Salary Service will, for a reasonable fee, research your job and mail you a pay-comparison analysis which details what people in your field and in your location earn.  (Keep in mind that your value is always a range, never an exact number.)  They have approximately 38,000 job titles for which salaries are customized by geographic location, years of experience, and other relevant factors.  Contact them at (773) 4-salary.

(3) Libraries and other print media.  Here are six major resources that you're likely to find valuable:  - the reference book, "American Salaries and Wages Annual Survey" and - "Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature.  Look under "salary, "wages" or "earnings" to help you find general periodicals.  As one example, "Working Woman" at least once a year offers a men's vs. women's pay comparison survey.

(4) National and local newspapers, including business publications.  Check, for example, salaries listed in the "Wall Street Journal."

(5) Trade and Professional Associations.  Check in either of two resources: the "Encyclopedia of  Associations" or the "National Trade and Professional Associations" to find associations relevant to your career.  Call directly and in your most charming voice, ask for any research data or salary survey information they've collected.

(6) Executive Recruiters (aka Headhunters) or employment agencies often publish or at least  gather information on local salaries for various occupations.

(7) Government Positions (federal, state, county, city) are often listed on the individual websites with salary ranges.  Keep in mind that many government positions pay 10-20 percent less than their private sector counterparts.

As on final alternative, if classified ads for your targeted position appear either in print or online, check to see what employers are offering for the years of experience, duties and responsibilities as they are posted.

Clearly, finding out what you're worth requires taking time and energy.  The resulting payoff, however, is to potentially significantly increase your negotiating power.

Judy Kaplan Baron, Ph.D.

For more information call Judy Kaplan Baron at (858) 558-7400 or email at