Understanding the New Personal Salary Report

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: September 23, 2013

What is the PSR?

The PSR is our Personal Salary Report. You probably know about and have used our free Salary Wizard, but the PSR is an enhanced compensation analysis that costs a little bit of money, but gives you much more of an edge when it comes to negotiating salary.

So why should you buy the PSR when you can get free information in the Salary Wizard? Glad you asked, because here's our step-by-step guide to understanding the PSR.

For Starters...

The very first thing you'll do is enter your job title, state, and city. This is important because the region in which you live has an associated cost of living, and that will factor in prominently to your salary range. Once you've done that, you will be given several job titles from which to choose. Pick the one with job responsibilities that most closely mirror the ones in your current/potential position.

At that point we're going to ask you a host of questions such as number of employees at your company, what industry the job is in, number of direct reports, and then questions about your personal background including years of experience and education level. Answer completely because each factor is crucial when shaping your total market value later on in the process.

Understanding Our Methodology

The first thing you need to know concerns our methodology, since your interviewer will likely ask you about the source of your calculations.

Salary.com gets its data from purchasing thousands of compensation surveys from reputable data firms. Our experts then review those figures to match them to multiple survey sources, job descriptions and titled, and check for inherent biases. The result is a salary estimate that is 100% employer-reported, meaning we don't rely on crowdsourcing or user-submitted content like other sites do. This adds to our reliability and accuracy.

Our data is also fully scoped, which means Salary.com's team takes your geographic location, company size, and level of education into account when determining your salary estimate. So after the data collection, the validation, and inclusion of variables you have your customized market value.

Understanding Your Salary Estimate

The most important part of the PSR is your Personal Salary Summary.

Here you see a breakdown of all the most important information you need to lay the foundation for your salary negotiation. The chart breaks your salary range down by percentile -- the 25th, median, and 75th percentile. You'll see a personalized "projected salary range" where Salary.com puts your market value, but you'll also be able to see what the pay looks like on the low (25th percentile) and high (75th percentile) end of the range. We also calculate your expected bonus and the estimated projected raise amounts for your job type.

Your key strengths which most help to drive your salary higher are also listed.

Understanding Bonuses

Signing bonuses, milestone bonuses, discretionary bonuses -- some people don't realize how many different types of bonuses there are.

This section explains non-guaranteed forms of compensation and projects your annual bonus range. But, as always, you need to keep in mind bonuses are dependent on the economy and the financial well-being of your company at the given time.

Understanding Position & Personal Factors

Simply put, position factors are company specific details that affect your pay, and personal factors are details about you that affect your pay.

With regard to position factors, if you report to executive level superiors that's a positive factor that will increase your pay. On the other hand, if your actual job responsibilities are less than what is standard for your position, your salary will likely suffer for it.

On the personal side, if you have a Master's degree where only a bachelor's is required, you'll likely see a rise in your estimated salary range. But if your most recent performance review was lacking, that's going to count against you.

These factors will be spelled out clearly as positive, neutral, or negative so you can see where you stand.

Understanding How Employers Set Pay

While it's important to concentrate on your salary needs and how your salary range is calculated, it's just as vital to understand how the employer sets its pay philosophy and structure.

Some companies separate employees into pay grades or bands. Companies handle pay increases by longevity, while others strictly look at performance and give increases based on accomplishments. Also, knowing when your company analyzes and reviews compensation is key because you want to time your negotiation as best as possible. So whether you're negotiating a higher starting salary or requesting a raise, it's imperative to know what your company's philosophy is and how they handle pay structure.

Understanding How to Determine Raise Amounts

The PSR also aims to help you determine how much of a raise you should expect.

Much of it depends on your company type. Startups generally only give raises to high performers because they're cash-strapped, while mature companies more broadly dispense raises. Our comprehensive chart will help you understand where you fall, and also help you pinpoint how much of a raise to ask for.

We also provide you with a worksheets for you to fill out that helps you determine how much money you'll ask for versus the minimum amount for which you'll settle. There are separate worksheets for asking for a raise and negotiating a job offer.

Understanding How to Negotiate

Even after you've figured out the amount for which you should ask, it's the asking part that's difficult for many people. But Salary.com anticipated this problem and came up with common salary negotiation dialogues that occur between employers and employees, so you can practice.

When your boss asks you to defend the source of your numbers, tells you the company doesn't have money for raises, or starts talking about ultimatums, we have the responses you'll need to continue to effectively negotiate.

Understanding How to Negotiate Everything

There is often such a focus on base pay that many people forget there are other things to negotiate.

We list out all the other components of your compensation package such as vacation time, stock options, tuition reimbursement, and flex scheduling to name a few, and the best practices for negotiating additional benefits when your interviewer won't budge on base pay.

Let the PSR Help You Negotiate Better

Ranging from $30 to $80, the PSR is a comprehensive negotiating tool that will pay for itself and then some by aiding you in getting the job/raise you want. To learn more click on the following:

  • Salary.com's Personal Salary Report
  • Helpful negotiation content