This is tougher to get than the publicly-available salary data online, and easier to get than your intra-company peers’ salaries (which we’ll cover in the next section).

Market value for the average person

If you know people doing your job for other companies in your industry, you could talk to them to get a sense of what they’re paid. Some people are pretty open about this, and there’s less of a taboo around discussing inter-company salaries than intra-company salaries.

Some people are uncomfortable discussing their salary at all, but there’s a nice workaround that you can try: Rather than talking about their salary, talk about a salary for a hypothetical person who is very similar to them. For example, you could say, “If someone were hired at your company today to do a job similar to yours, what sort of salary do you think they could make?”

This is an extremely transparent and roundabout way of asking about their salary, but it gives them an out so that they can talk about salaries without explicitly mentioning their salary per se.

Note that I suggest finding comparable salaries for your job in your industry. This is a subtle but important point—different industries operate with different pay structures and different margins and all sorts of other differences. They also value skillsets differently, and that’s a key distinction you need to account for. Finding out that someone with your skillset and experience is paid significantly more in a different industry is good to know because it might mean you should consider looking for work in that industry, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that companies in your industry will pay the other industries’ salaries.

How you compare

Determining how you compare to someone doing your job for a different company in your industry can be tricky because you can’t simply observe them doing the job. So you’ll need to ask them about it. “What does your day-to-day look like? How many projects do you work on at a given time? Do you do anything in addition to what’s written in your job description?”

Then, think about how you stack up. Is your work better than theirs? Worse? Are you faster than they are? Slower? Do you do more things than they do? Fewer?

Next, estimate the market value for your skillset and experience for a specific company.

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