I am aware of lots of sources, like the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, GlassDoor, SalaryQuest, and Salary.com, Indeed.com's salary search, and the others that come up when doing ~30+ minutes of Google searching on the topic.

However, for the type of position I am interviewing for, the data are extremely sparse and the job titles don't really correlate across different employers. How else can I get an accurate sense of what the salary range for this position is?

I can give some details about the position type and location if needed, but I'd prefer general tips for where to get more conducive sources of data than things like the above websites.


Two "data sources" I've used:

  • Former coworkers I've kept in touch with, especially if they're now working as hiring managers for the type of job I'm seeking. A quick call to them, and they'll usually provide the range you can expect to see.
  • Recruiters. There are several recruiters that I've been in occasional contact with for several years. None of them have ever placed me, but I've forwarded their open positions to some friends. When I've asked they've been willing to give me typical ranges for annual salary and hourly contract rates.

Obviously, you need to keep your network active in order to be able to tap either of these sources for data.

  • Thank you for the reply. These are good suggestions. Unfortunately, I'm a graduate student and the job offer is for a non-academic position. I don't know anyone who works in this niche sort of position nor do I know any hiring managers / recruiters. But it is good advice to keep in mind going forward.
    – ely
    Feb 14 '12 at 15:52

The best source is the employers themselves: multiple interested employers. If your goal is to maximize the size of the offer, you'll need multiple employers bidding. When you get a first offer, try to hold out giving a response until a second one (or more) arrives. Take the top offer and ask the currently losing bids to top it. Repeat until you don't get better offers.

Realistically, this process won't last long. No manager is going to write you an offer for more than they're making, and that puts an upper bound on their offers.

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