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Salary Guides & Guidance


The Riley Guide:

Finding salary information to help you make a decision or negotiate for better pay isn't always easy. There's the problem of finding up-to-date and reliable data for your situation; then there's the problem of deciding if the data you are looking at is relevant to your situation; and finally, you've got to know how to use the information you've found wisely in negotiations – whether that means asking for a raise or a better compensation package when accepting a new job. This page provides links to a variety of online resources for comparing salary information, and for turning the statistics you find into actionable insights.

Salary and Compensation Guides

Whether you want to compare salaries in job postings with industry medians, to check how reasonable the salary in your job offer is, or to present your case for a raise in your current position, online salary guides provide the hard data you'll need. And with resources like the ones listed in this section, the task of finding that data will be a lot easier for you. Take a look at this list of links to salary guide resources, and you're likely to find one that applies to your situation.


  • General Salary and Compensation Information — Sites that've been established with the purpose of providing broad-based libraries of salary information for a wide variety of professions and levels. Some gather this information from reports by current and former company employees, while others collect statistics from publicly available or proprietary sources.
  • U.S. Government Wage Surveys — Government sites with enormous libraries of salary data, presented through user-friendly search engines. Though these sites tend to focus on general statistics rather than on individuals' salary reports, their detailed breakdowns can still gave you a clear idea of what to expect salary-wise for a given profession in a given region of the country.
  • Executive Compensation & Severance — Guides to executive compensation and severance packages. Some of these gather their data from publicly available sources, while others conduct their own private research. Some offer their findings for free to the general public, while others charge a fee. And while some take the form of searchable databases, others specialize in case reports on particular executives and industries.
  • File for Unemployment Benefits — If you've put in some time working a regular job in your state, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit or get fired. Here are links to the appropriate agencies to contact when you're ready to file for unemployment benefits in all 50 states; plus D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands


Evaluating Salary Data and Other Useful Guides

Finding the salary data you're looking for isn't necessarily the end of the process. You've still got to determine what that data means, and how it relates to all the factors of your own current situation. This actually isn't all that tricky, though, once you've got an idea for how to go about it. The links in this section will help you put the salary data you've found in the context of the job offer you've received, the cost of living in the area where the job is located, and other considerations that may have an impact on how you interpret the data you've found.


  • Evaluating Salary Data — A short list of questions designed to help you determine how much value to place on the data you see in the various salary surveys. It's worth a quick read, because each question provides a unique angle of consideration on the value of the data you've found.
  • Other Ideas for Finding Salary Data — If you're still not finding the breakdown or report you need, this link will point you toward some tips for diving deeper into data on a specific career. One suggestion is The Riley Guide's extensive library of in-depth Career and Occupational Guides, which include either salary data or at least a general discussion of each profession's salary range.
  • Evaluating & Negotiating Job Offers — How to frame job-offer negotiations in terms of your worth to the company, and evaluate the offer you receive to make sure you're getting the deal you deserve. This page also includes our guide to Negotiating Relocation Expenses.
  • Disclosing Salary History and Requirements — Some employers will ask about your previous salaries, and you've got to be careful how you phrase your answer so you don't give up your bargaining power. Here are some tips for understanding why some employers ask about your previous salaries, and for how to approach your response.
  • Cost of Living Information — Knowing how much it'll cost to rent an apartment or pay a mortgage in your prospective job's area can make a major difference in how you evaluate a job offer – and i can also prove useful in negotiating benefits. This page includes links to lots of resources on the cost of living in various regions of the country.


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