September 16, 2018 7:00 am
Updated: September 28, 2018 4:07 pm

How much money should you ask for? Here’s how to determine your worth

WATCH: Four ways to negotiate salary when looking for a new job


The job interview process isn’t an easy one, but what’s perhaps the most tenuous step is providing your desired salary. It’s hard to know exactly what to say without inadvertently pricing yourself out of the job altogether.

“You should have an idea of the salary range going into the interview,” says Jodi Kasten, managing director of Indeed Canada. “If you’ve done your research, you can have a healthy conversation about it [after the interview]. Employers actually expect it.”

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But before you start spewing random numbers that indicate your dream salary, employment experts have some tips on how to determine what your worth is.

Use online tools

Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor can provide salary information that will give you an idea of what the range is in a particular job.

“We encourage job seekers and employees alike to research salary information [online] for their current company or prospective companies to better understand an employer’s pay practices,” says Amelia Green-Vamos, Glassdoor community expert. “By arming themselves with this valuable data, employees can put themselves in a position to negotiate for fair pay.”

But always investigate this information with a critical eye, and be as specific as possible to get the clearest picture.

Kasten says to think about comparing job titles, even in the same industry.

“If you’re an ER nurse, you’ll have a different salary than a nurse who works in palliative care. The more specific you are with your job title and sub-industry, the better it is because there can be a difference in salary range [even in the same industry].”

That also applies to location, she says, as jobs close to or located in a large city will come with higher salaries because the cost of living is higher, compared to jobs in smaller or rural centres.

Network and talk to other people

Most people find it awkward (and even downright rude) to talk about salary, but there are ways around the conversation that don’t involve flat-out asking a person how much they make.

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“You don’t want to ask some random person on LinkedIn how much they earn, but if you have friends in a similar industry, you could broach the subject subtly,” Kasten says. “Say something like, ‘If I were to change companies and have five years of experience, what do you think someone with my qualifications could garner?'”

It’s also important to diversify the people you reach out to for this kind of information, as gender and racial pay gaps could lead some people to ask for less than they deserve.

“We all tend to compare ourselves with similar people,” said Hannah Bowles, a senior lecturer and co-director of the women in public policy program at Harvard Business School, in an article by Time. “So if men are asking men what they get paid, and then women are going to their girlfriends, the men just may walk into the negotiation with a higher number than women… reach outside convenience networks and try to get the best information.”

Know your worth

It’s all fine and well to have a picture of what a certain job title can offer in terms of compensation, but it’s also important to recognize your own worth, which you can use as leverage to negotiate more pay.

Education, years of experience or specialized skills can put you in a position to ask for a higher salary. These factors can also work to give you a more realistic picture of what you should be earning.

“If you’ve recently graduated and are a CPA, you’ll garner less money than someone who’s a manager of CPAs,” Kasten says. “That’s the first thing you need to consider.”

Sites like Glassdoor and PayScale offer tools that can help you figure out your worth based on factors like education, experience and work culture.

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However, if you find that you’re worth more than what’s being offered, don’t be too quick to dismiss the possibility or demand more without taking some important factors into consideration.

“Keep in mind the company you’re talking to,” Kasten says. “Is it big or a start-up? Because if it’s a small company, they may not be able to put the total compensation package into a salary. You also need to consider if they offer perks, like telecommuting, flexible hours or the ability to set your own schedule.”

“To job seekers today, those elements add up and contribute to the total compensation package.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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