My Three Cents: How Much are You Looking to Earn?

It seems like a trick question when the job interviewer asks: "How much are you looking to make?" In today's tough job market, your instinct might be to answer, "I'll take anything." But, you can get a more informed feel for the salary range of various positions and a sense for your current market value by doing a little benchmarking on

Plotting Your Market Value

Answer a series of detailed questions and the website will produce a graph indicating where you fall on the pay scale, factoring in benefits and other perks -- health coverage, travel expense reimbursement, the kinds of things that factor into the overall value equation. The site has collected salary and career data from over 23 million people covering 12,000 job titles in more than 1,000 industries in 150 countries.

Whether you have a position or are in the job market, it's useful to know if your current or prospective salary is at, above or below the average. There's no point in wondering -- or stewing, as the case may be -- over whether your colleagues are better compensated for similar work. And, if you fall on the high end of the chart, this little online exercise can yield near-instant gratitude: "I just remembered, I really like this job!" Use Payscale as a guide for asking informed questions in conversations with HR, and in negotiating job offers. Just don't overplay your hand, or you may slip off the scale altogether.

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