Know Your Market

By, 12/09/2014

Most people agree “fairness” is a reasonable guiding principle for sensible decision-making (though what constitutes “fair” can be a more contentious debate). When it comes to gauging your “fair value” on the job market, there are at least two inputs to consider: What the market says you’re worth and what you believe you’re worth. An honest job seeker will allow the former, not the latter, to shape an appropriate expectation of one’s labor value.

It all goes back to the first lesson of Economics 101: supply and demand. If you possess a specialized skillset few have and employers desire, your relative market demand is higher than the average job hunter—meaning more options, higher compensation, etc. The general job market “fairly” sorts potential employees based on what employers want.  

If you’re trying to calculate your general labor market value, assess everything you bring to the table—skills, experience, education—and see what the market is paying for it. This doesn’t mean the price you see is the price you’ll get—markets are fluid and individual companies may value you differently—but you can get an objective and fair gauge of where you stand relative to other job seekers, free of any biases or preconceptions you personally may hold.