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How to Research Salaries When Job Hunting

The 'What Color Is Your Parachute?' author favors these six sites

By Richard N. Bolles

(This article is adapted from What Color Is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Interviews by Richard N. Bolles, published by Ten Speed Press.)
If you’re looking for a job, you might want to research salaries before heading into an interview.
True, employers are pretty determined to pay the lowest salary they can get away with, and — given the large pool of unemployed job-hunters out there  — they can get away with a lot. Still, that’s only true sometimes.
If you have talents or experience that is much in demand, then the power equation shifts. In that case, you need to know what the going rates are for the work you are skilled at doing. That way, if the employer lowballs you, you will know it.

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You’ll know it because you’ve taken the time and trouble to do the research and you’ve found out what the typical salaries are for that job in that industry in that part of the country. Then, in the interview, if the employer makes an offer but comes in too low, you can help educate them. (I’m being kind.)
Okay, then, how do you do this research?
On the Internet, it’s not hard to research typical salaries for the kind of job you are interviewing for.
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Here are six free sites that may give you just what you’re looking for: This site is a treasure trove. It links to 300 sites that maintain salary lists and joy, joy, it is kept updated. is one of the largest and most complete lists of salary reviews on the Web, maintained by a genius named Mary Ellen Mort. It’s the most visited of all the salary-specific job sites, with a wide variety of information. has expanded a lot over the years; roll over the green navigation bar at the top of the site to see all its resources.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook online The BLS publishes and regularly updates a survey of salaries in individual occupations in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. There’s a print version and an online version.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program This is a companion piece to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Over a period of three years, this program surveys 1.2 million establishments to get their figures.

(MORE: 3 Ways Women Can Get Paid More) When you need a salary expert, it makes sense to go to “the Salary Expert.” There’s lots of stuff on the subject of salaries here, including a free “Salary Report” for hundreds of job titles, varying by area, skill level and experience. His site also has some salary calculators. (I find a little complicated to navigate, but maybe that’s just me.) This site allows you to search based on location and job title or company.
So, there’s your list. And it’s only a sampling.

But do give this research whatever time you can, so you can then go to the interview satisfied that you won’t let the employer put one over on you when you’re talking salary.
If you’re given a salary figure, you can then question it. And if you hear something like: “Oh, but that’s what this kind of job pays” you can respond by saying, “With all due respect, Sir or Madam [as the case may be], that’s not true. I researched it.”
Reprinted with permission from What Color Is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Interviews by Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press, ©2014).

Richard N. Bolles The late Richard N. Bolles, considered to be the father of the modern career development field, is author of the bestselling job-hunting book of all time: What Color Is Your Parachute? (the 2018 edition  has just been published). Read More
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