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Know Your Worth (& Then Add Taxes)

Congrats! You’ve found a potential role with an organization you feel excited about. It’s now time to figure out if the role that you’re considering offers a salary that you feel reflects your worth – the experience and fit you bring to an organization.

But how do you determine your value – especially when it’s your first job?

Navigating your worth for an organization and accepting a contract you feel confident signing takes a little education. As a recent graduate, although you may be “new” to an organization as a full-time worker, you likely actually have years of experience through internships, work placements, volunteering, co-ops, and research projects that make you more equipped and worthy of a position than you initially thought. Especially today, most leading employers are equally interested in your experience gained and personality as they are/once were in your degree. This is great news, for you, but influences how you should approach resume writing/application and consideration of a role and its proposed salary.

Here are OCC’s tips for determining the salary most suited to your new role:

  • Make sure you are documenting, or have a record of, all of your work-integrated learning experiences to-date and ensure you know how much time overall you’ve spent building those experiences. Many universities and colleges are now using technologies that help guide that information, don’t hesitate to ask for support from your career center if you need guidance finding this number.
  • Understand the skills that those experiences gave you – don’t sell yourself short. Interpersonal skills, communication, leadership, and self-management are highly sought-after and it’s very likely you’ve earned these if you’ve committed to hands-on learning in combination with your degree.
  • Get a grasp on the average salaries for the industry in which you’re applying and the role that you’re considering, then factor in the experience and newness you bring to determine where you feel you might fit on that pay scale.
  • Understand taxes – what you make and what you take home are different. How much do you need to pay the bills and how close are you, experience-wise, to get that number? Is what you need to pay the bills, your minimum salary, also a reasonable salary within the pay scale for your hopeful career and industry? If not, may be time to consider another role or industry – putting it bluntly!!!
  • Weigh the pros-and-cons of the role and organization outside of salary. Will you get amazing benefits, sick days, an incredible corporate culture, an approachable friendly team, and invaluable experience in a field that is difficult to get into by accepting a salary slightly lower than your expectation?!? Well, long term, this type of value goes a LONG WAY. It may be the best decision for you to settle for the lower salary and play the ‘long game’ knowing that one day it will pay off fiscally.

Resources to determine the salary scale for your hopeful role and industry.

At the end of the day, landing the right job for you, with the ‘right salary’ is a personal analysis around overall compatibility, personal responsibilities, life expectations, and goals. A job may pay you really well but you might not last in that role if you aren’t the right fit for the team and you find that the role isn’t actually conducive to what motivates you. Just remember, whatever your next move, you’re more empowered than you think, and being informed, well, that always helps…