Salary Negotiations: Hack to Know Your Number

salary negotiationsSalary negotiations are tough. Too often, job seekers go into interviews for jobs for which they applied not knowing what the position might pay. Mainly because the job announcement didn’t disclose it.

So therein begins the guessing game.

Then, the candidate runs into the employer who is out to find out THEIR salary negotiation number.

Well, it’s time to do a little mind play on employers and find out your salary negotiation number using the same tricks they use.

The May 2013 edition of HR Magazine had a great article, “The Art of Setting Pay” (by Joanne Sammer), which provided some great insights of how human resource professionals go about setting pay rates.

Using similar methodology, you can tap into these pointers to discover a “rough guess” of what a job might pay BEFORE you walk into the interview.

Remember, knowledge is power, and you need to be as empowered as possible going into any interview.

Here are some tips to try and uncover what a job might pay, and to help understand your salary negotiation power:

1) Google “compensation surveys.” Some of these are paid services, but put this into perspective… don’t you think $50 or $100 out of your pocket to gain access to information that can determine your future lifetime earnings potential might be worth it?

2) Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. At this website, you can find a lot of information about what jobs pay as reported by employers. This can help you create a mean average of what your target position might pay.

3) Purchase salary information from a trade association. Many industries have a trade association that helps their members by collecting salary information.

4) Do some digging on salary websites. Sites such as or can provide some general guidelines for your particular job target within your region.

5) Look at other comparable jobs in your market. Taking an average of the salary of the jobs that are available, you can also see what (at least on the public side), employers are willing to pay. Then find the median in the middle to find a comfortable number.

6) Scale the compensation according to the company size. A marketing manager at a 10-person company is going to get paid a lot less than the same position at a 1,000-person company.

7) Understand local geography and economic factors that can influence pay. Smaller towns generally don’t have a broad of an economic base (or job opportunities) that a larger city offers.

If you can get into the mindset of the employer who has the job opening and understand the methodologies they used in setting the salary levels, then you can have a better idea of what their (and your) number will be.

And you can walk into the interview prepared for salary negotiations as a well-informed candidate.