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How Much Are You Worth? The Entry-Level Salary Conundrum

How Much Are You Worth? The Entry-Level Salary Conundrum

January 29, 2010

Any job searcher knows that one of the joys (make that “joys”) that goes along with finding and securing employment is figuring out how salary fits in. Does a job with better long-term potential balance out a low salary? If a position will require a lot of night and weekend work on top of nine-to-five days, will you take it only if the money balances out the time? If only it were that simple.

Unfortunately, job seekers are often faced with the horrifying interview question, “What are your salary expectations?” Cue brain. Send message to face. Do not look alarmed. Do not convey that, at this moment, you’re embroiled in an inner debate over how much you’re really worth, and surely they recognize your worth?! But, you know, you’re tired of searching, and you want a job. So maybe it’s OK to take less than you’re worth . . . If it’s right. But how do you know? I mean, you don’t want to live on the street, so maybe you should just take what they offer. What if you shoot too high and blow it? What if you aim too low and sell yourself short?

Whew! Feel familiar? Knock it off, calm down, and check out some resources that can help.



PayScale.com: Get salary ranges for myriad industries.

Peruse the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Hit up your college career center (even if you’re an alum). Chances are they have college-specific salary data to get you in the right ballpark.

Once you have a good idea of salary ranges for your field in the cities where you’re hunting, you’ll be all set to let employers know what you’re expecting. Just remember that if you give a range, you should be willing to work for the low end of that range.