When you’re looking for a job, pay is the first thing you think about, but the last thing you’re technically allowed to talk about. It’s a bitter irony of hiring etiquette: you do your best to market yourself in a way that gets an offer, but you don’t. dare talk about money until the time is right.
Standard career resource tools (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Payscale) can provide an approximation of what you can expect in terms of salary for a potential position, but frankly, they can often be unreliable. Still, there are other ways to get more accurate salary estimates for a given job opportunity – they just require a little more effort on your part.
Cold call people who don’t work in HR
You might be surprised at how helpful some of your potential future colleagues are, especially if they aren’t in HR. Browse LinkedIn or other company directory (or similar) and find people who work in adjacent positions. There is nothing wrong with emailing one of these people and telling them your situation and that you are curious about the company’s compensation. “You can work to identify friends or people who are currently working inside and ask for time to chat,” says Hilary Pearl, executive coach and organizational consultant, at Lifehacker. “Ask them how people are paid, or even what the pay scale is for the job in question.”
Wage sharing is definitely considered to be much less left than before, especially since transparency on low wages in certain industries is used to advocate for fairer compensation standards. Workers in some fields made an effort to share industry information, and did so publicly via Twitter hashtags and spreadsheets where anonymous workers list their wages.
But since most people don’t work in these public areas, it might be more possible to directly ask people in the desired position on the pay scales and even get their advice on how to negotiate the optimal package.
Government websites are good, in fact
They can be wobbly and difficult to navigate, but government databases can provide a more accurate range than many listings on top career sites. SItes like Glassdoor often list salary scales based on a range of data points, and are usually cobbled together from self-reported salaries and AI algorithms. The results are not necessarily as accurate as what you might find on the Ministry of Labor website, which contains average wage estimates for over 800 fields in the United States, websites may also offer similar numbers that might inform your job search. The California Department of Employment Development, for example, provides salary information for vocations statewide. (Not everyone lives in California, but it’s the fifth largest economy in the world, for what it’s worth).
And of course, many specific industries have their own online databases to look up. Robin Sommerstein, Los Angeles-based human resources consultant, gives an example of how it works in the legal profession: “While working as a human resources professional in law firms, it has been helpful to join the Legal Administrators Association. There is free online salary information, how to negotiate wages online, ”she said.
Then there’s the idea of literally asking for money from an HR manager or hiring manager, but if you go that route, you have to do it politely. Timing is important, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re imposing at all, especially if the interview has been a longer or lengthy process.
As career consultant Adam Karpiak said Business Insider in 2019, “Asking the company / contact the salary scale is generally 99% professional. Just avoid short, short answers. ”
He elaborated, telling the publication:
For example, if a business sends you a nice email acknowledging you and asking for a chat, don’t just reply, “What does that pay?” I have found that most companies enjoy the salary discussion because no one likes to waste their time.
Basically, the prevailing wisdom tells you to dance around the matter until the money makers are ready to talk about it, but that’s not always the best course of action. Taking charge of the pay discussion requires you to know your worth, which means you should already have considered what you consider to be an appropriate range commensurate with your skills and experience. This is good information to have at all times during the hiring process.
Take into account benefits other than salary
Of course, a business can theoretically offer you a little more than a bi-weekly income. If a potential employer has a reputation for fostering a great culture and certain benefits that you find appealing, that could weigh just as heavy on your mind as the pay scale.
Pearl insists this can go a long way, advising to “learn about the culture of the company before interviewing to match your personal criteria to their total value proposition.”
“Think about the company’s bonus structure; the quality and amount of medical services paid for by the company; whether special benefits such as child care and parental care or reimbursement of school fees are provided, ”she advises. “Also, how important is flexibility to you?”
Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to figure out what a job might pay for without just searching for one of the more well-known career websites. But it is also always appropriate to ask on pay scales when the time is right – and that doesn’t mean waiting to receive an offer.