Press Room

How much am I worth?
Thursday, Jun 7th, 2012

You begin to apply for that perfect job and then you read those dreaded words written in the advertisement-please submit desired salary in order to be considered. Most job seekers would prefer to put "salary negotiable". However, companies may not consider an applicant unless a desired salary is listed. There are a variety of reasons why some companies may ask for salary history and/or desired salary. Businesses may use it as a tool to weed out candidates or companies may use salary history as an indicator for setting the salary for the advertised position. Whatever the reason, how you respond could determine whether you move forward in the process.

The best rule of thumb is to determine your worth and not undersell your skill sets and abilities. If you low ball yourself and submit a low salary, an employer may raise questions about your ability to perform the job. Likewise, if you state a ridiculously high salary you may be cut from consideration of the job. Let's say a company posts a job advertisement for an administrative assistant with at least one year of experience. The company maybe considering a salary range of $21,000 - $24,000. If a more experienced administrative assistant applies for that job, they may be able to negotiate a salary ranging from $23,000 + depending upon the depth of experience that may be brought to the job. The advanced skills set might be able to save the company money. However, stating that you will take the job for $17,000 might land you the job and seriously undercut your starting pay and delay your income growth. Also, the company might question why you're willing to work at such a low rate.

In order to negotiate a fair market salary, you must do the following:

Do your research. There are several websites such as that provides salary information based on experience, cost of living, education and other factors. The Occupational Outlook Handbook found at covers hundreds of occupations and describes the type of job, work environment, skills needed to gain employment, pay range, and more. Each profile also includes employment projections up to the year of 2020. Also, consider using Alabama labor market Information by visiting . You can get entry level, median and experienced wages for various occupations.

Ask around. Interview others in your field and ask what would be a fair salary for someone with your skill sets. Remember that education, work experience and cost of living should be considered. For example, someone working as a police officer in Mobile, AL will not make the same salary as a police officer working in New York City.
Weigh the pros and cons. If you consider taking a job that pays less, consider commute time, work hours and job environment as a positive tradeoff. Accepting a job with less responisbility may free you up to spend more time with family and friends. However, If a bigger paycheck is your ultimate goal, consider what you have to sacrifice in order to make it happen (i.e. longer work hours, flexible schedule, etc.).