What Salary Can You Command?

How do you know where you should fit in the salary range for your job?  What makes you worthy of the top 90% salary?  Or do you truly bring the typical traits to the job and thus should receive the median salary? Understanding your own traits, skills, experiences, accomplishments, and uniqueness will guide you to the salary that you should command.

I propose a method to make this as objective as possible by using a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.  Think of this like a Glamour Quiz …or was it Cosmo Quiz?

As you have probably guessed from my magazine quiz reference, this is not scientific but it helps to give you an impartial perspective of your capabilities.  More often than not we are either our worst critics or starry-eyed fans of ourselves.  The goal here is remove those biases.

Rate Your Education:

Let’s start with your education.  Education does impact salary potential.  The following chart on median weekly earnings from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 300% premium for people with an advanced degree compared to people without a high school degree.

So, give yourself 1 point for each move down the chart

1 = Less than High School

2 = High School Graduate

3 = Some College or Associate Degree

4 = Bachelor’s Degree

5 = Advanced Degree

Rate Your Accomplishments:

Now on to your workplace accomplishments.  I’ve organized these into 5 groups. I like to think of it as NARRC.  This is similar to the expression of NARCing except you will need to Narc on yourself.  To realize a higher salary you will need to Narc on your accomplishments. Give yourself 1 point for each category you have contributed.

  • Network – The old saw of “It’s not what you know but whom you know that matters” does have merit.  Think about who you know that would be considered high profile “gets” for your employer.  This could be a new client, a new partner, an investor, or an advisor.   Another network is your social network.  Do you have a large group of business followers, friends, connections, or blog readers?
  • Alignment – Having experience that models the company’s goals is a great plus.  Have you worked for a start-up that has gone public? Have you worked for a public company that has gone private? Experience through transition times such as these is a huge benefit to a company.  Companies do not need to be going through a transition for you to earn a point in this category.   Have you worked in a similar setting and thrived?
  • Recognition – Internal awards such as employee of the month indicate your superb capabilities.  External awards indicate your superb abilities AND allows your company to promote it and thus themselves.
  • Revenue Generation – Sales people always have a direct link to this bullet but many other employees can tie their activities to revenue as well.  First, consider if you have referred any new customers to the company.  Second, perhaps you contributed a new product idea or suggested a new market to target representative. Third, remember if you have represented the company at any event such as a conference that generated PR.
  • Cost Savings – Things you have done to create a cost savings for your employer such as negotiated better vendor contracts, developed a streamlined production process, or initiated employee social media marketing

Now count up your points and multiply that number by 10.  Estimate that you should be at that percentage in the salary range.  For example a college graduate (4 points) who had received awards (1 point) and developed a cost savings customer support process (1 point) should be earning a salary that is at the 60% mark of the salary range.

As I stated earlier, this isn’t scientific and it is not exhaustive.  I’m sure there are other categories that could be considered. Are there any that you can recommend?  I look forward to learning some other ways to consider this.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited