Career Advice, Know Your Worth, Salaries

Narrow Your Job Search Using Your Targeted Salary

Young man working at home office

As the new year begins, job boards across all industries are buzzing with opportunities for job seekers everywhere. Whether you’re a seasoned job seeker looking to make a change, or someone job hunting for the first time, earning a decent salary will always be important for your livelihood. 

If you’re currently job hunting and wondering how to narrow your job search based on your targeted salary, here are four steps for you to follow: 

1. Research the specifics of the role you’re applying for 

Before deciding on the salary of interest, you need to have a clear understanding of the role you’re applying for. For example, if I am in Human Resources (HR), what area of HR am I looking to work in? Recruitment? Compensation? Training? Beyond the salary, understand the role, and make sure that intrinsic interest is present for you.  

Next, understand where your skillset lies on the spectrum of experience. Someone with 1-2 years of experience in a certain domain can expect to earn less than someone with 5-7 years. Self-awareness at this stage of the job search is important, especially as your craft your job searching narrative and make your salary demands. 

Without proper research, you might have unrealistic expectations of the day-to-day of the role or of the salary ranges.

2. Determine what is important for you at this stage of your career

At each stage of your career, the focus of your needs will change. For example, as a recent graduate, you might focus on roles that give you exposure and training while focusing less on salary. When you make a career change, you might focus on developing a niche or taking on an internship that will give you experience. When you’re more specialized, you may focus more on compensation. 

Do a needs assessment of your career, and decide what is important for you in your next job. Make a list of your “must-haves”, and use that to evaluate opportunities. For example, you could say, in my next role, I want to work:

  • In a startup
  • As part of a new team
  • In walking distance to my home

This will help you say yes to the right opportunities and no to the wrong ones. Be mindful of where you are in life and know this can be fluid, especially when you’re making career changes. 

3. Research companies of interest

Once you’ve determined the type of role that interests you, you can research different companies and industries. The more targeted you can be in the job search, the easier it will be for you to sort through the ocean of opportunities. You can start by using Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list to get a feel for the best-rated organizations. 

To go even further, you can sort through opportunities using filters like:  

  1. Small-mid-large size companies
  2. Startup or corporate
  3. Private or not for profit
  4. Tech, finance, health, retail, etc.

Using these kinds of differentiators will help you stay focused and apply to jobs that are relevant to you. 

Lauren McGoodwin, founder of Career Contessa recommends that people narrow their job search first by the company—find a great place you want to work for, then determine the roles you’re interested in. From there, you can conduct your salary research.

4. Create your targeted salary

Once you have a better understanding of the roles, industries, and companies that interest you, you can begin benchmarking roles against actual salaries using market research. 

McGoodwin says that “first, you have to do your research to understand the market value for your skillset”. You can check out free salary tools like Glassdoor’s salary review tool. These allow you to browse thousands of salaries for different jobs at each skill level. McGoodwin also recommends asking real people in similar roles what their salaries are. She says to make sure you ask both men and women in your research since men, on average, make more money for the same job as women.

Use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth calculator, which will give you a free, personalized salary estimate based on today’s job market. The free salary calculator based on millions of real salaries, and can accurately indicate how much you should be paid based on current job title, base salary, employer, work location, industry, typical job transitions, years of relevant experience, and current state of the local job market. Plus, individual Know Your Worth market values are recalculated weekly.

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You may find that certain roles that interest you might require you to take a pay cut. McGoodwin says that “If this is the case, determine exactly how much money you need. What are your fixed expenses? What about variable expenses? Don’t forget to consider savings and any debt payments. Once you know exactly how much money you need to live, you can determine what pay cut you can take. Next, analyze what you’re gaining instead of the bigger paycheck. There are non-monetary benefits to consider and you should clearly define them before you accept a job that comes with a pay cut as well”.

Once you’ve done the research, you can decide whether or not these types of roles would be appropriate for you to apply for based on your targeted salary. A simple search on Glassdoor can show you jobs with Glassdoor salary estimates as well as roles with salaries listed. 

Salary Estimates on Jobs Glassdoor

As you navigate your career this new year, remember to be your own cheerleader and focus on developing a healthy relationship with yourself and your career, beyond just your salary! 

Stacy Pollack is a Human Resources professional on a mission to improve the workplace for employees and employers alike. She is passionate about coaching and helping people succeed at work. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at


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