Determining Your Fair Market Value

By Paula Santonocito

Attractive, smartly dressed african-american woman  behind laptoOver the past two years the economy has more than slumped—and unfortunately, in many fields, salaries have also declined.

So, how do you figure out what constitutes a fair salary in the post-recession job market?

Research Your Field

Whether you’re vying for a raise or searching for a new job, you owe it to yourself to get up to speed regarding current market conditions as they relate to compensation.

Thanks to technology, this information is at your fingertips.

Job advertisements, professional association websites, and online business networks are among the resources you can tap to find the facts and figures you require.

At job boards, job search engines, online newspapers, and other websites that feature help-wanted advertising, find the position you seek or currently hold and see what it pays. If applicable, search in a variety of industries. For example, you may currently manage the accounting function of a manufacturing firm, but you’ll want to look at accounting manager jobs in other industries as well, particularly fields like health care and technology, where companies are hiring.

Meanwhile, professional associations often provide insight into what your field is paying. It’s not uncommon for associations to conduct member salary surveys, offer articles or blog posts about the job market, and/or provide other resources related to employment. As result, be sure to check out the websites of these organizations.

Online business networks, like LinkedIn, are also potential sources of information. At LinkedIn, there are Groups related to professions and industries, and within these groups employment discussions may already be taking place. Using the search box at the site allows you to find these conversations. If you can’t find what you seek, why not pose a question and start a discussion? People who use sites like LinkedIn are happy to share what they know, and in the current economic environment people seem even more eager to help one another.

In addition to these resources, you can take advantage of salary tools, like those available at Salary.com and PayScale.com, to hone in on salary ranges. Keep in mind, however, that because these tools take into account average salaries, often across a range of industries, they are best used in conjunction with your own research.

Consider Your Location

One important feature of salary tools, and one you don’t want to overlook when conducting your own salary research, is location.

Location, location, location, as the real estate mantra goes, matters to a job search as well.