Salary negotiation research tools

In my previous post I started discussing how to know if you’re getting paid what you are worth. Today I will give you some tools to use in your research and some tips to help in your salary negotiations.


Find out what the position is currently paying for similar work in similar environments (including positions inside and outside the company) through —

    * On-line job search engines (e.g.,,, etc.)

    * Company websites (your company and others in the same industry)

    * Business Journals

    * Specialized Trade Publications

    * Personal networking contacts

    * Newspapers/Classified ads

    * Published salary surveys

Below are five excellent reference websites that offer salary calculators and reference guides. You may be required to subscribe to the service in order to obtain accurate, high quality information:

Once you have the salary data, the best indicator of the market place is to combine a number of different salary ranges set for the same job by at least a half-dozen employers rather than just relying on one company’s salary range. Ideally, the more salary ranges for the same job in the same geographical area that you can compare, the better.


Then, add all the minimums together and divide by the number of salaries you’re comparing. Do the same for the midpoints (the average of the minimum and maximum), and maximums. This will give you the range of the job’s the market value.


Now you can determine where in the range your current salary is. The norm is that the midpoint (the average dollars of the minimum and maximum of the range) is ideally where you should be after 5 or so years in that position. This is not an absolute but more of a goal to assess your value.


And finally…


The second thing you need to understand (and this is more difficult) to determine whether you are at the high end or low end of the pay scale is that various companies may offer different salary ranges due to the company’s internal salary policies and practices. There may be hiring policies stating that no matter how much experience you have, the best starting salary offer would be no more than a small percentage above the minimum starting point.


Of course, this is to help avoid internal salary issues. Also, despite your position and responsibilities, if the company has not kept up with the market movement for its current employees then they are not very likely to pay more to a new hire than they do for current employees. So even though a company may recognize and value your experience and skill-set, the salary offer may be minimal to avoid any potential internal salary issues.


After you have done your research and are more educated about your worth in the marketplace, it may be a good time to schedule a meeting with your manager to inquire about a potential pay raise! Now, go forth and prosper… and know your worth in the marketplace.

Are you getting paid what you’re worth?

Let’s face it, your paycheck has a direct impact on your quality of life. Yes, having a good boss, challenging work, and clients who pay on time are critical factors in your overall job satisfaction, but your salary, health benefits, 401k plan, and bonuses can tip your overall job satisfaction scale from being “very satisfied” in your current work situation to “I really got to get a new job RIGHT NOW!!”


So how can you know if you’re getting paid what you are worth, and how can you negotiate a better salary?


Your salary is determined by three factors.


First, the company you work for. There are some companies who are known for paying their employees a beefy salary and benefits package. Fortune Magazine recently compiled a list of top paying companies.


If the company you work for is not on the list, don’t worry. You might still be making a healthy salary based on your peers within the company, and even the industry. I recently spoke with Fred Cooper, compensation expert for a Fortune 100 company who gave some great strategies for determining your value in today’s marketplace. So the question is —
How do you know if you’re on the high end or low end of the market’s going rate?


Cooper said that there are two key factors that determine your salary. One is what the market is currently paying for your skills, experience and areas of expertise. The other is the company’s internal salary policies and practices.


“Research is key,” says Cooper. “You must determine the value of the job that you currently have or want. There are a number of salary surveys where jobs are priced that can give you a salary range for the work as identified in the job summary or job description. Make sure that when you start your salary survey that you have a good job description and understanding of the job you are comparing. Do not use job titles for comparisons but get in to the duties and responsibilities of the work being performed.”


“For example,” Cooper explained, “an ‘accountant’ for one company may be a true accountant while for another, the title may be applied to accounting clerks, financial assistants or others performing ‘accounting support’ work. Combining salary ranges in this instance would not provide a true sense of the market value.”


Before you go in to negotiate your salary with your new employer, be sure to schedule a career coaching session with me to help ensure you receive the best salary & benefits package possible! It’s a small investment to make compared to what you could be losing out on if you aren’t properly prepared.


In my next blog post I will share some of the best tools and web sites to help you with your research.

What is your personal brand saying to others?

What is your personal brand saying to others? Getting bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer career depends largely on how you’re perceived by senior managers, business associates, and potential employers. That means that people are the jet fuel behind your career. People can promote you, hire you, mentor you, inspire you, or introduce you to others who could hire you.


So if you’d like to get into a career that actually inspires you to get out of bed in the morning, then a good place to start is by polishing up your personal brand.


* Send the “right” messages. Everything you do and say sends messages to your senior managers, clients, peers, networking contacts and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports and work deliverables all shape the perceptions others have about you.


You influence people through your actions and your words so make sure both are in sync. Send a crystal clear message that focuses on the value that you consistently deliver to a company or client. Your “value” is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc. All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.


If you’re currently working with a company and you’d like to stay there, then you may want your message to be that you deliver high quality and results. For example, if you’re in sales then your message should be that you consistently generate revenue. If you’re a creative director then your message should be that you consistently develop fresh campaigns that increase sales.


Take every opportunity to send your value message through project updates, status reports, presentations, hallway conversations, business networking events, in your resume, and in your interviews. Talk about the results or the success of the projects and teams you’ve led, or the benefit they added to the company like generating more revenue, saving costs, or making the company be more competitive. If you want to be seen as a problem solver then talk about the challenges that your team overcame, and the key lessons that you’ve learned.


The key is to role model the “value” that you provide by consistently demonstrating it, living it and breathing it.


* Go for the “High Value” Projects. Getting on the right projects and delivering strong results is the single most effective way to boost your personal brand. That means aggressively going after those projects that generate money, save costs or make the company more competitive.


Just like everyone else, you have 8-10 hours a day at work. Now, you can either spend those hours parceling out your time in bits and pieces working on a variety of tasks and assignments, or you can concentrate your efforts on making major contributions that generate BIG results.


Consider where you can make the biggest impact for your organization and aggressively go after those assignments. Successful professionals don’t leave it up to their managers and senior leaders to drop plum projects in their lap. They drive their career by volunteering for, or even creating, projects that make the biggest impact.


* Get into a career where you can thrive (not just survive!) It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!


Think about what kind of work you want to be doing. Start by identifying the three key ingredients you need in the work itself to be happy and fulfilled such as leading teams, working on creative projects, developing new technologies, etc. Once you’ve defined the three key ingredients, then do whatever it takes to drive your career towards that vision.


So what is your personal brand saying about you? Powerful personal brands don’t just happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is a deeper, more meaningful career. “CAREER SMART-5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” can help you find YOUR personal brand.

Be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud

I received an e-mail that made my heart sink. It was from someone I didn’t know who said that his career had sunk so low that he couldn’t even look at himself in the mirror anymore.


I could see from his resume that he was a senior high tech developer, had an MBA, and was an adjunct lecturer for a well known university. So how could someone who clearly has such great discipline, training, and skills be at such a low point in his career?


I’m sharing this because I don’t want YOU to ever be in this situation. I want you to be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud.


If your career is making you feel unmotivated, and undervalued, then make a commitment to yourself to change jobs. Yes, change is scary, but sometimes the thought of NOT changing and staying in your job long term can be even more terrifying.


Take the first step in making a career change by building a strong support system around you. Talk to others who inspire, motivate you, or can teach you how to get into the job you really want. Find mentors and a career coach who can give you tools and resources to help you make a career change quickly and easily. (Even Tiger Woods has three (3) professional coaches helping him advance his career.)


Life’s too short to stay in a career that disappoints you. Get determined to work for an organization that values and appreciates all that you have to offer. Not only will you have a more enriching career, but you’ll have a more enriching life. And you’ll actually enjoy looking at your beautiful self in the mirror.

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview?

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview? And how can you remain calm and confident especially if you really want or NEED THE JOB? Do you know what your interviewer really wants to know?


Here are a few things your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:


* Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific requirement that you don’t meet, or a skill you don’t have, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential risk for relocating, or potentially being sick or pregnant and at risk for taking a medical leave of absence, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where YOU are a risk.


During the interview, beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. For example, when I was interviewing with my current company, I had six rounds of interviews. During the final interview with the VP of the division and my future manager, the VP asked where I was a risk. My future manager responded that my brother worked in the same division. The VP then asked if I would be reporting to my brother, which of course, the answer was no. You could immediately see relief across the VP’s face when he realized that the risk was identified, and that it really wasn’t a risk at all.


Most interviewers are not as direct as the VP, but the concern is still there. The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk and then immediately follow-up with why it shouldn’t be a problem.


Addressing your risks is also the reasoning behind the question, “Tell me about any weaknesses you have.” When you are asked this question, I recommend that you respond by bringing up an area for improvement, but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that skill.


For example, let’s say that you are interviewing for a position for a Sales VP and the position advertises that the applicant should know a specialized software application. If you are not familiar with this tool, you could say that you do not have a lot of experience with it but that you are taking an on-line training class to sharpen your skills (but only say this if it’s true!)


This approach shows that you are serious about your professional development and take the initiative to grow and improve your skills.


* Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?


This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. Again, it is better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.


I was once interviewing with the VP of Sales at a TV station. After 1 ½ hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted me or not for the position. So, I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office since they get beaten up outside of the office so much. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.


During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics. Your interviewer is trying to get a clear picture on whether you would be a good “fit” for her team. Also, be sure that the ways you dress, speak and act align to the company and the position for which you are seeking. Is the company formal (think Wall Street, a top law firm, or a hospital), or is it more informal (think Google, Starbucks or the YMCA)? Perhaps the company is informal, but the position is formal (think sales, human resources or executive management.)


* Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package? This is usually the final and perhaps one of the easiest areas to determine if you are a good match for the job role. Be prepared to talk about the SALARY RANGE that you are expecting. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts and starting salary. But you should be able to give a salary range that is acceptable.


Since you have one shot to make a great connection with the interviewer, it’s always a smart idea to visit with an interviewing coach to get customized strategies and MORE INSIDER TIPS to strengthen your interviewing skills.

You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression so what can you say that will push you up to the TOP SPOT and get you the job offer?


Preparing your answers for an interview is so much simpler when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you. There are key questions going through your interviewer’s mind and once you understand those questions, you can be more prepared, more confident and feel less anxiety during the interview process. So let’s take a look at what your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:


* Can you do the job? Do you have the skills, knowledge, and training to successfully perform the job? These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to succeed in the position or not. Have you analyzed the job description and fully understand the job requirements? Do you really have what it takes to succeed in this position? If yes, then be prepared to answer specific questions about your qualifications. And if you don’t, then wouldn’t you rather know now in the interview than have the stress of being stuck in a new job where you can’t meet the expectations?


You should have pre-selected “personal career stories” that highlight your professional successes. Practice saying out loud what your skills, strengths and areas of expertise are. Your answers should be specific and focus on results and accomplishments.


* What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined. In other words, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, “What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?”


What specialized skills or areas of expertise do you have that can ADD VALUE to the company? For example, if you’re going for a job as a Public Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company. This “extra” skill may position you as the TOP candidate for the job.


Before you go into a job interview, think about the additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position. Be sure to work these skills into the conversation, but only after you have discussed those skills and qualifications that are REQUIRED for the job.


Interview coaching can help hone your interview skills.

Resume Tips to Get You Noticed

Customize your resume to go for the job and company you want. A hiring manager will notice you so much more if your resume is specifically targeted to that position for which you are applying.


* Relevant, targeted and customized. Employers don’t have time to read about every single skill and job that you’ve ever had. They just want to know, are you qualified to do their job? So spotlight only those skills and responsibilities that directly relate to that position.


* Write a personalized cover letter. Hiring managers form their first impression of you based on your resume and cover letter. So the last thing you want to do is send out a generic, mass mailing cover letter. It should be short, direct, state your key accomplishments, and be enthusiastic. Make it personal and be specific why you are passionate about going to work for that particular company.


* Invest in a professional resume critique. Studies show that your resume has about 20-seconds in the hands of a hiring manager before it gets tossed into the maybe pile, or into the trash. So it needs to make a great first impression! Think of it this way – when you walk into an interview you want to make a great first impression so you’re going to dress well, wear a great pair of shoes, you’re going to smile more, etc. Well your resume needs to do the same thing.


Invest in having your resume professionally critiqued. Getting some personalized recommendations from a resume expert could not only get you more high quality job interviews, but it may also help position you at a higher level which could mean getting a higher starting salary!


For more juicy tips and help from our resume writing pro(!) to make your resume stand out from your competition, visit our resume tips page!

What have you done lately to drive your career forward?

As your career coach, I need to ask you “What have you done lately to drive your career forward?”


Great jobs don’t just land in your lap. You need to know what you want and then go after it!


Have you identified a job role that leverages your passions and strengths? Have you had your resume professionally critiqued and customized to meet the requirements of your dream job? Have you been setting up informational interviews to learn more about different job roles and industries?


So much of having a successful career change depends on your ability to interview well. You may spend months aggressively going after job opportunities – but it all comes down to the last 60-minutes of interviewing that determines the fate of your career.


Want help to make you stand out from your competition? Learn how to showcase your strengths, transferable skills, leadership abilities, accomplishments, and manage perceptions in your next interview in “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job” Guide.

Tips to get your Resume Noticed!

Don’t worry if there is a product nobody’s heard about or is difficult to explain on your resume. You want the hiring manager to be curious about you. That’s why they have interviews – so they can get more information about your qualifications. Be brief. Be specific. And give them enough information that will leave them wanting more.


* Highlight leadership and teamwork. Hiring managers look for candidates who are strong leaders, AND strong team contributors. Someone who can lead, as well as be led. So highlight your leadership skills – and what the results were with the projects and teams that you’ve led. If you’re just started out in your career and haven’t led any projects or teams, then highlight any leadership experience you may have had in professional organizations, a sports league, in church, or any other extra-curricular activities. Also, list projects in which you were a strong team member in terms of what your role was, and what the team accomplished.


* Be specific and clear. Don’t waste your resume space (or the hiring manager’s time) by using “filler” words or vague overarching comments like, “received awards for various contributions”, or “launched several products”. List the specific awards you received, or the names of the products you’ve launched. This gives your resume substance and credibility.


For more juicy tips and help from our resume writing pro(!) to make your resume stand out from your competition, visit our resume tips page!

Proven Resume Guidelines to Get Noticed FAST! (part 2)

You may think that your resume is sharp looking, but are you confident it’s going to help you stand out from your competition?


* Showcase yourself at the right level. I review a lot of resumes and more times than not, the resume reflects the job candidate at a much lower level than what they really are. Use strong verbs like: managed, supervised, led, orchestrated, etc.


Sometimes less is more. You don’t need to include every job role you’ve ever had on your resume. When you keep lower level jobs on your resume, it brings your whole career level down a notch. And conversely, when you delete some of those lower level roles and focus on those jobs where you had more responsibilities and more significant accomplishments – you’re perceived at a level higher.


* Use the correct format. There’s a chronological format, and there’s a skills-based format. Be sure to use the format that showcases you in the best way possible. Also, if you’re applying for a position posted on an on-line job board, like or, then make sure you use the text only format.


* Always be truthful. The last thing you want to do is to overstate what you’ve accomplished and get into a job that you’re unqualified and inexperienced. Also, don’t be embarrassed if you have any gaps in employment. It is completely normal to have gaps. Life happens. Hiring managers understand this. If you took a break for more than a year, then just list the years and write next it, Career Break.


For more juicy tips and help from our resume writing pro(!) to make your resume stand out from your competition, visit our resume tips page!