When you are looking at a job change there are lots of variables complicating your task. One of the challenges is getting an idea of how far your current salary would stretch in another state. Living costs can be quite different and the same dollar amount may translate into the equivalent of a nice raise — or an unwelcome pay cut.
Rasmussen College has a nice tool for comparing your options. Salary by State: Where Can You Really Earn The Most? is part of their Career Research Hub and this looks like it can be useful for more than a graduating senior.
Get An Idea Of Your Living Costs
The way the Salary by State tool works is simple. First, you select your occupation from the drop down menu at the top of the page. Then, you can choose up to 5 states to compare the average salaries in that career and the average salary adjusted for the cost of living. Here are the numbers for an executive in a random selection of states:
Connecticut: $211,850 becomes $193,647 when adjusted for cost of living
Pennsylvania: $180,950 becomes $183,333 when adjusted for cost of living
Minnesota: $160,750 becomes $164,872 when adjusted for cost of living
South Carolina: $141,290 becomes $155,777 when adjusted for cost of living
West Virginia: $96,280 becomes $108,668 when adjusted for cost of living
Those are some big variations for the same basic position of an executive, and it makes relocating a bit more adventurous because of the changes. A tool like this calculator is a good way to get an idea about what you could expect. It’s important to include any benefits offered by a potential employer in your calculations, too. Before you change jobs, make sure you are looking at all the data, including adjustments for location.
One of the uncomfortable parts of a job search is discussion of salary.Most of us don’t really like negotiations over salary and fear that putting our current wage on paper might doom us to repeat it. For the most part, you really don’t need to put salary history on your resume. At the same time, if a job posting asks you to include salary history or requirements when applying, they will be looking for that information when you apply. Employers have various reasons for requesting salary information. They may want to screen out those who expect more than they are willing to offer or find someone who is qualified and willing to take the least amount of compensation. They certainly want to know you will follow instructions. You could comply with a request for salary history in several ways:
attach a salary history to your resume on a separate page
include it in your cover letter
use a salary range rather than the specific amounts
It should go without saying that your salary history should be accurate. You will be jeopardizing your career when they check with former employers and discover the truth. At the same time, if you think you were underpaid, there’s no reason to avoid saying so if it can be said diplomatically. Salary requirements can be handled with statements that show your flexibility and willingness to negotiate the overall compensation package including benefits. Here, too, a range can be helpful as long as it is within reasonable limits. Tools like a salary calculator help you figure out what the range for your expectations should be. Salary may not be on your resume, but it is definitely on everybody’s mind, and you need to be prepared to discuss it.
Many times, we set our goals using the wrong data. We have dreams of a certain job or lifestyle, but the steps it will take us to get there in reality are nebulous. The Job Search Resources page has a number of tools for your use, and the variety of salary calculators listed there will give you real help.
Using a salary calculator to find the reasonable expectations for what your job should pay gives you the range of salaries you can expect for that job. Location, skill set, education, and experience can be factored in. That means you can look at where you currently are and decide if there are steps you can take to get to where you want to be:
Is this the field you want to stay in?
Can you meet your financial obligations with your current salary? How about the top range of salary in your bracket?
Are there other, higher paying jobs within this field (or others) that interest you?
Do you have the skills, education, or experience to reach that level?
What practical steps can you take today to gain the skills, education, or experience you need to reach your goals?
The salary calculator is simply a tool that equips you with facts. You can print out a graph or data sheet showing what your level of experience in your location should reasonably be paid and show it during salary negotiations. You can answer confidently when an interview question about salary expectations comes up. At the same time, you have a reality check about the job market.
Like any tool, this one is only as effective as the person using it, but the person using it can learn how to use it properly to get great benefit from it. Your goals are achievable with the right tools!
Are You An Underearner? What Your Salary Might Say About You
Recently, there was an article on LearnVest titled “Hello, My Name is Tom and I’m an Underearner”.It’s an interesting read about the characteristics of underearners and the presence of an AA-type support group called “Underearners Anonymous,” (Who knew such a group existed?) It got me thinking about how salary means more than money: It can affect how others see you, and how you see yourself, like a dirty window on the world. One of the problems that can develop during a job search is a completely unrealistic idea of salary.It’s easy to undervalue your abilities and ask for too low a wage, or to assume you can demand the paycheck someone with years of experience in your field would get. If you add up your monthly bills and just ask for that much, you aren’t using all the information that should go into salary ranges. Underearners are people who are not getting the salary that someone with their qualifications would reasonably expect. This could be because they don’t value those qualifications or are afraid to ask for a raise. It could be because they’d have to live up to their potential and they are afraid. There are a lot of reasons why salary and self-esteem are connected. In some cases, there is discrimination causing salary issues, but this cannot be assumed because sometimes the reason for the lower paycheck is actually performance-related. You need to dig deeper to find out why that paycheck is that amount. During a job search and interview, salary is a subject that you should be prepared to confidently discuss with a prospective employer without being demanding.The more you understand your worth, the easier it is to see that you deserve (earn) a wage that is accurate. There are two excellent resources available to you:
Job Search Resources — this page has a wealth of information, including salary calculators and self-assessments
Job Search Success System — this is a full course that will give you the skills to show your worth accurately to potential employers.
When you are getting the salary you should be getting, it’s like seeing your world through a clean window.