Researching Your “Worth” In The Marketplace by Mark Goldman, CPAPosted: February 15, 2016
We interview applicants every day and find that there are many factors that go into how professionals determine their “worth” so-to-speak when deciding on what salary level to target. In our experience, most people decide the salary level they would like based on 1) getting an increase over their current pay, 2) what they have heard that other people are making, and/or 3) their needs. All of these approaches have merit, but how do you objectively determine the value of your particular skill-set applied to a specific level of responsibility?
There are several ways to ascertain what an appropriate pay level would be. Since the appropriate salary is mostly dependent on the state of the market, some of the best ways to research your worth are as follows:
- Internet resources. While this is the least specific method of researching salary levels, there are many salary studies and calculators available on the web. If you choose to utilize this approach, make sure you look at several sources (4-5 or more) as well as look at a few titles in each. An “Accountant II” or “Accounting Manager” may mean different things in different surveys. Also, some calculators give you very wide salary ranges. Using several can help you narrow down the range to something meaningful.
- Ask a local recruiter. Frequently this is the most accurate method of getting information for your specific market. If the recruiter is local, and if they work primarily on jobs in your field, they are able to give you a range specific to your geographical area as opposed to salary calculators or surveys that may simply be applying a cost-of-living adjustment to a national range. There is always some subjectivity to a professional opinion, but a recruiter is more likely to be able to weigh the nuances of your specific situation.
- Interview! The most accurate measure of your worth in the marketplace at any given time can be found by testing it out. Interviewing for jobs that you may be interested in gives you the best estimate of what the market is willing to pay. Whether or not you decide to make a change, you will quickly be able to tell whether you are currently underpaid, paid at the market rate, or possibly even paid higher than market. Since it is rare an organization will go all the way to making an offer without having some idea of what your current salary level is, you may be able to determine this information very early on. While there certainly is a time investment to this method of research, it truly is the most definitive way of determining the market for your particular skill-set.
Whether you decide to do internet research or take the more direct approach to finding your value, determining that early in your search is important. Shooting too low can cause you to end up in a job where you feel undervalued, and shooting too high can cause you to miss out on opportunities that you may have enjoyed.
Until next time, I wish you the best in your search.
Mark Goldman CPA
Mark Goldman is the founder of MGR Accounting Recruiters, a San Antonio based recruiting company whose primary business is the placement of accounting professionals in both permanent and contract positions.
Mark graduated from St. Mary’s University in 1992 with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting. After working for a few years in public accounting, he entered the recruiting industry. In late 2006 he started MGR Accounting Recruiters, which was recognized by the San Antonio Business Journal as one of the fastest growing companies in 2010 and 2011. He currently serves on the board for the San Antonio Chapter of TSCPA as President-Elect. Mark received awards for outstanding work as a volunteer with SACPA for the 2009-2010, 2011-2012, and 2013-2014 chapter years. In addition to his work with the SACPA Chapter, Mark is also involved with Financial Executives International and volunteers with the career transition ministry at his church.
On a personal note, Mark is married to his high school sweetheart, Sayuki Goldman, who owns and manages the business with him. They have a beautiful 9-year-old daughter that is growing up too fast.