Researching the Salary to Ask For

Olga writes:
How much money do I ask for my first job? I am applying for a job in the printing business
in computer graphics or desktop publishing. I have a professional certificate.

The Career Doctor responds:
You ask a great question and it’s one where many job-seekers fall short.
Before applying for any job — and most certainly before any job interview for the
position — job-seekers must conduct a little research in salary and other benefits and compensation.
And there is no reason not to do conduct research — because there is so much
information available.
For general salary information often the best source is one of your industry’s
professional organizations — because many of these groups conduct salary surveys
regularly. Another source is your network within the industry; conduct your
own informal survey of professionals you know to gain knowledge about salaries job titles career tracks etc. Your school’s placement office (and teachers/professors)
should also have some basic salary information. And of course there are multiple
sources online (such as that provide salary information by job title
AND location (factoring in cost of living).
For company-specific information you may need to do a little more digging and
use a bit more finesse. Interestingly some companies are putting salary information
on their corporate career centers. For other companies you may need to have an
inside contact to get you the information.
Please remember two things though. First even though you are armed with all this
great salary information you always want to push salary discussions to later job
interviews — and certainly not on your first interview. You will lose negotiating power
if you disclose your requirements too soon. Second always look beyond salary to
some of the other benefits (“perks”) that the company offers including things such
as vacation days personal days health insurance life insurance education reimbursement profit-sharing retirement savings etc.
One final piece of advice — especially for first-time job-seekers — never sound too
desperate and never accept just any job offer.
Take a spin on the Salary
Negotiation Tutorial
found on Quintessential Careers — as well as all the other
Salary Negotiation
and Job Offer Tools and Resources
800-652-8430 Mon- Fri 8am - 8pm CST
Sat 8am - 5pm CST, Sun 10am - 6pm CST