A reader contacted me via IM this week to ask for help with his job search.

GRS reader: hey JD
J.D.: Hey, David.
GRS reader: i am in talks with a company to go work in the us, arizona to be precise, and they asked what are my salary expectations
GRS reader: i have no clue what they are… I am 23 years old, and I just want to live confortably for the period I stay there, i.e. no need for car, rented house (maybe roomate), etc
GRS reader: what would be a good salary for that profile?
J.D.: Well, it totally depends on the industry and location and your job. There’s no one right answer.
J.D.: If I were in your position, I would use Google to research information about similar jobs.
J.D.: I would try to locate similar firms adverstising for the same position that might give a salary range.
GRS reader: its an internet marketing job
GRS reader: i talked to another friend and he said an entry level salary is around 35k gross
J.D.: These sorts of situations can be very intimidating, because you don’t want to leave money on the table, but you don’t want to come off as too aggressive, either.
J.D.: Your best bet is to find as many comparables as possible, which may be difficult.
J.D.: Your best weapon is knowledge. The more you know about the situation, the better position you’re in. Do some research to see if you can learn what similar people in the field are paid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (as you’re doing with me). I don’t know the answers, but somebody will. :)

I could only give David vague suggestions — I didn’t have any concrete ideas to improve his bargaining position. What he really needs is some sort of crystal ball that could let him know what a fair salary is. Over the holiday I stumbled across a site called SalaryScout, which is designed to just that.

SalaryScout sounds like a great idea, and obviously people find it useful because the site has over 5000 members. From what I can tell, there are daily updates to the salary information. However, the site wouldn’t accept my registration for some reason, so I can’t give a more detailed review.

Fortuantely, I was able to find a site that looks even better. Indeed, which bills itself as a “search engine for jobs”, also offers salary information.

Indeed gives job seekers free access to millions of employment opportunities from thousands of websites. Indeed.com includes all the job listings from major job boards, newspapers, associations and company career pages – and we continue to add new sites every day.

If the home page is to be believed, Indeed has listed nearly one million new jobs in the past week alone! Its salary search is quick and easy. Using it, I was able to learn that David should expect to earn $45,000 as an internet marketer in Arizona. (That’s better than the $31,000 that Indeed says Oregon-based bloggers make.)

Indeed also allows users to browse jobs (or use the default “search engine format”), access job search tools, and participate in discussion forums. SalaryScout looks promising, but Indeed seems to have all the information a job-hunter could want.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Labor publishes an online Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is just a fancy way of saying “career information guide”. Though its interface is not as slick as Indeed’s, the OOH contains a ton of information for each career, including descriptions of working conditions, relevant qualifications, job outlook, estimated earnings, and more.

Armed with these three tools, David can enter salary negotiations informed, and in a position to ask to be paid what he’s worth.

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