Don’t Undervalue Yourself: How to Figure Out Your Worth

July 2019
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Recently, I interviewed a talented publicist, who specialized in entertainment. We had a great conversation, and when we were wrapping up, we touched on his salary expectations. He quoted a number to me, and I was, truthfully, thrown for a loop. How could he be targeting such a low annual figure? He came to the table with eight years of impressive and relevant professional experience and, on top of that, was highly educated.

I realized that as a freelancer, it can be difficult to know how to fiscally translate your worth into a full-time, permanent role. In broad strokes, I offered him advice about what the PR agency market looks like for someone with his background and seniority, and he was grateful. Having read some of my past articles, he recommended I touch on this for the general public. So, here we go!

Research the market

When negotiating your salary with a potential employer, or when you’re asking for a raise during review season, don’t undervalue yourself. Learn what you’re worth by having a solid general idea of the market in your industry, city, specialty and seniority. Do research before your interview, so that when the tough conversation about money arises, you are prepared, well informed and confident.

Glassdoor has a tool where employees can share what their title and salary is when they leave a review for their current or former employer. The website averages out what information people have shared, and then provides ranges for what salaries might look like for these positions. Besides that, it’s nice to see what people have to say about a firm!

LinkedIn now provides possible salary ranges for listed job opportunities on their platform. If an employer chooses not to identify what the salary range is for a position, which is often the case, the website will provide a market average based on similar titles, companies and information supplied voluntarily by users. It’s not an exact science, but it is helpful to use for context.

There are other platforms that provide salary generators, such as Monster. Monster allows you to enter your title and location, and it generates a salary range for you. It also displays some jobs on the platform that could be relevant based on your search. Dice is another resource for a salary calculator. Payscale has a similar tool, and you can even produce a salary market report based on self-reported information.

I would recommend tapping into your network — professional organizations, industry events and your mentors. While it’s not a best practice to outwardly ask someone what they earn, you might be comfortable asking a trusted contact what salary ranges look like in their business given your particular level of experience, accolades and accomplishments.

Atlanta-based publicist and blogger Frank Strong wrote an article in April containing salary information compiled annually by PRWeek, and it is conveniently broken down by overall median, median by corporate/agency/nonprofit, median by region and median by gender. You can reference this information in PRWeek’s salary survey.

Keep an open mind

When reviewing these resources, keep in mind that salary ranges vary based on a number of factors: company size, sector, location, in-house versus agency, etc. Be open to negotiation, and remember to also take into consideration any options for benefits, commissions, bonuses and other avenues of compensation in addition to base salary.

Find a healthy baseline, and go forward from there. You owe it to yourself to place value on your education, time, skills and experience.

Return to Current Issue Going Solo - Independence | July 2019
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