Fortune favors the brave. You may have heard variations of this quote from Virgil’s Aeneid before. In the original version, the fortune to which this saying referred to was the Roman goddess of luck, Fortuna. Apparently, it was thought that she would look fondly on those who were courageous in their endeavors and grant them success. However, a quick study of the classical literature reveals that Fortuna may have been a bit more fickle.

Commenting on luck’s role in the field of science, Louis Pasteur took a more pragmatic than poetic approach, stating that chance favors only the mind which is prepared.

So, as you embark on your job search, what will you rely on to bring your fortune? Courage or preparation?

If you want to improve your fortune during your next interview and salary negotiation, your answer should be both. It takes both preparation and courage to ensure that your next job offer includes the best compensation package that your new employer has to offer.

Be Brave: Have the courage to ask for the salary you want

In the February 2018 article, How to Negotiate Salary After You Get a Job Offer, staffing firm Robert Half reported that only 39% of the workers responding to its survey said they had attempted to negotiate higher pay when they received their last job offer. Over 60% of the respondents had not asked for a better offer.

Should they have asked? According to career experts, yes!

It takes both preparation and courage to ensure that your next job offer includes the best compensation package that your new employer has to offer.

Most employers have some degree of flexibility when it comes to setting pay. By asking for a better offer, job seekers could obtain an increase of five to ten percent.

Moreover, as Katie Warren explains in 11 proven ways to ask for a higher salary and actually get it, recruiters and hiring managers expect candidates to negotiate. So, unless your request is outrageous, asking for a higher salary is a low-risk way to improve your fortune.

How do you know how much to ask for? By doing your research before you receive an offer.

How do you know how much to ask for?

Be Prepared: Know your market value and be prepared to justify your ask

The best time to research your market value is before you begin interviewing. That’s because you’ll use this information not only during salary negotiations but also to help you target the best prospects for your job search.

How can you find out what employers are willing to pay to hire someone like you?

Here’s a list of 5 resources you can tap as you begin researching your professional market value:

#1: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook handbook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook provides a treasure trove of information not just about salaries but hiring rates and other data relevant to your job search. Start with this resource to gain a broad overview of your industry and its prospects, then drill down to uncover detailed information about your job title and region.

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource for discovering salary ranges

#2: Websites publishing salary surveys and offering salary calculators

The internet has no shortage of information about salaries. Websites such as Paysa, Salary.com, and Payscale can all provide you with valuable intel regarding your market value. Some of that information is gathered directly from employers or mined from their job postings. Additional information is gathered from current or former employees.

When consulting these sources, keep in mind that the data you see may differ from what your future employer is willing to believe. Employers are less likely to trust self-reported data than information gathered from fellow employers. Of course, the best information comes from a combination of sources, each checked against the other.

#3: Company websites and intranets

Currently, less than 20% of companies provide complete transparency when it comes to compensation. However, increased salary transparency is trending. For example, social media management app Buffer publishes its salary ranges on its public website. Other companies publish complete salary information on their internal network or intranet.

Transparent salary calculator from Buffer.com

#4: Industry and  professional organizations

Professional and industry-related organizations are a good option when conducting salary research. Members can ask the organization’s staff and leadership for information about general salary trends and specific companies or for an introduction to a fellow member who is willing to sit down for an informational interview.

#5: Your immediate and extended network

Don’t be afraid to tap your personal network as you conduct your personal salary survey and spread your net wide to get the most comprehensive view of the market.

Ask friends, colleagues, mentors, former bosses, and co-workers what they know about the pay rates for the jobs you are seeking. If your associates aren’t comfortable sharing what they are earning in a similar position, ask them for a range. Or, ask them if they know someone who works at a competing company who might be willing to speak with you.

With the right information, you’ll be prepared to approach your next salary negotiation with confidence. Knowledge of your market value is an essential tool for your job search toolkit. By doing a little research in advance, you can identify a benchmark rate that regional employers in your industry are paying for someone with your skills and experience. Carmen offers a Skills Benchmark analysis to help you figure out what types of job titles and roles your skills may align with. For instance, if you're looking for an accounting role and aren't sure as to whether a staff accountant job title or an accounting manager title is the right role for you, you can quickly research what level of experience and skills employers most commonly request for those specific titles across a broad swatch of recently active jobs.

All of the information you need is there and will be useful to you when determining whether a potential employer is a compensation leader or laggard and whether your salary request is reasonable. So, create your list and start taking notes. It’s time for you to discover and earn what you're worth!