You've probably heard that the first person to mention a dollar amount in a salary negotiation loses, right? Suggest something too high, and they write you off. Throw out a figure too low and you get shortchanged. Or worse ... they assume you are inexperienced.
Before you get into negotiation, you really need to have a guess on pay range. I'd argue you should do this research before you even apply. Putting together a solid cover letter and resume is hard work. If you are doing it right, you're devoting significant time to matching your skills to the job description. You don't want to spend valuable time applying for something only to later decline because it is not a feasible career move.
Some employers will come right out and post salary. I love it when this happens. But it's way more common for them to list salary as "commensurate with experience", "negotiable", or even not mention it at all.
Here are a few tricks I've learned to sleuth on salary:
1. State Salary Databases
If applying for a job at a public university you are in luck. Salary information is a matter of public record. Chances are that a few Google searches can yield valuable intel on what a particular position pays.
Start by Googling "State Salary Database" and the name of the state where the job is located. You might find a database published by a newspaper or government website. It can take some digging. You'll need to know the title of the position. You might also need to know the division, name of the person last in that position, or other details typically found on the university's website or directory.
When looking at dollar amounts, keep the following in mind:
2. Ask around
This may seem intuitive, but don't forget to ask current study abroad pros what they think. They might have inside connections and the ability to get a legitimate pay range for you or know something regarding what the last person was paid. It is not that big of a field. And people talk. Current professionals are typically aware of the going rate for different kinds of jobs as a part of their own career planning efforts.
If you can't get public information on a job because the position is with a 3rd party provider or private university, you might need to make an educated guess based on other factors. I like to use LinkedIn to follow the career trajectory of people in the same, or similar, positions. This is not black and white like a state salary database search, but is worth the research.
Here is how it works... go to LinkedIn and in the search box type the title of the targeted job. This will pull up a list of people with the same job title. Check to see if any of them work for the organization listing the job. You may just find the person who left, and where they went. Their next career move can tell you a lot, especially if a Google search uncovers salary range for their new position. You might also see what career path others have taken within that company.
TIP: Remember that people will be able to see if you are creeping on their LinkedIn pages unless you follow these instructions.
If you have other tips or tricks regarding this topic feel free to share in the comments section below. Or, if you have used any of these techniques successfully, we'd love to hear about it!