Company and Salary Research Resources for Job Seekers
Research is an essential part of the job search process. You want to be prepared at every stage, be it your initial list of target employers, professional development opportunities, company research for cover letter writing and interview preparation, or salary research. Many resources are available digitally (for free or through subscriptions) to help you gain more insights into your industry, target role, and the world of work in general.
In the second part of this podcast episode, Marie Zimenoff, the CEO of Career Thought Leaders, covers salary topics.
One theme in career services is that the best moment to ask for an increase is when the offer is made formally. Remember that it will be difficult to gain a salary increase on an annual basis once you accept the offer. If you think about salary scenarios for 10+ years ahead, you can easily do the math and estimate where you will be if you do not negotiate the compensation package at the start.
Never be the first to name the number you are targeting (it may be lower than the actual salary the company has budgeted, among other scenarios). Simply ask, “What is the range you have budgeted?” Listen to the podcast episode for more examples of how to phrase your salary negotiations.
Also remember that if it looks like you cannot negotiate the salary, you can negotiate other components of the offer:
paid time off
remote work options
the number of people on your team
Before you can negotiate the salary, do your research using the following resources:
Professional association surveys
U.S. Department of Labor
Salary Finder page of CareerOneStop (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor)
Wages page of Job Bank (operated by Employment and Social Development Canada)
Salary data from a large recruiting company like Hays.ca
You may also check your research with the colleagues who currently work in the roles you are targeting. Avoid asking them to reveal a specific number. Instead, provide them with the ranges you have researched and ask if they are accurate.
Additionally, to balance out the potential offer with your lifestyle, use any of the online calculators to assess and add up your income taxes, other taxes, real estate expenses, health expenses, vacation budgets, insurance payments, pension savings, and emergency fund. Do this even if you already know your annual expenses, simply to accommodate the inflation and possible emergencies in the coming year.
Estimate the most comfortable salary you need to maintain or improve your lifestyle and compare it to the salary ranges you are finding. Knowing how much you need will help you establish clarity and confidence around the lowest acceptable number and the highest desirable number. With that in mind, you can articulate your unique strengths to convince the employer to pay you more.
The basic information you can uncover by researching the company includes its investments, team size, dba names, business standing, locations, and offices. You may also be interested in finding out more about their turnover rates, debts, acquisitions, profits, work volumes, legal action, growth trajectory, and company culture (workplace wellness, diversity, equity, ethics, causes, employee reviews, etc.).
Remember that the marketing materials you will easily find about the company (its website, videos, and company pages on social media) are written for customers. As a potential employee, you want to learn about the back office. One way to do this is to connect with the company’s former employees and ask them some questions. When doing this, show the person that you have done some research, state what you have found, and ask, “Does this seem accurate?” or “Is this in line with what you have experienced or know about the company based on your time there?”
You can collect business intelligence using the following websites:
Glassdoor (salary data and employee reviews)
Dun & Bradstreet
Better Business Bureau
LexisNexis (via your library)
Bloomberg (via your library)
PrivCo (via your library)
Company’s annual reports
Company’s website (specifically, the portion written for investors)
Employer surveys by professional associations (If you cannot find any, reach out to the associations’ leaders and ask for such recent reviews or surveys.)
Various social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok)
Boolean search on Google (It allows you to combine keywords with search operators such as AND, NOT, and OR to produce more specific results, for example,
“XYZ University” AND “sexual harassment”
“ABC Company” AND “employee satisfaction”
“ABC Company” AND “investigation”
Jobscan (for information on what ATS is used by a specific company)
General employer and industry surveys published by independent organizations. For example, in Ontario: https://www.peelhaltonworkforce.com/employer-surveys/
Ask your librarian to recommend additional resources available by subscription at the library.
Check if/how the leadership of the company was changing over the past few years and Google the media for the related stories.
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