Which website should you use to figure out the salary you should ask for at your next job? It depends—are you looking for a Nikk or a Kim?
When it comes to negotiations, the side that does the most research and preparation is the side that usually wins. Being able to justify your salary request with reputable data can mean the difference between a $5,000 raise and a $10,000 raise.
Many people turn to a variety of free data sources when it comes time to negotiate their salary. But which source is best? And what we mean by that is: which do employers respect the most? The two biggest players are what you might call the Nicki Minaj (Salary.com) and the Kim Kardashian (Payscale.com) of free salary data.
Let’s compare the two:
Nicki Minaj (a.k.a. Salary.com)
In the pursuit of becoming rich and famous, Nicki Minaj followed a well-worn path: she was a failed actress and struggling rapper in New York City whose consistent hard work and talent eventually allowed her to overcome years of failure and become perhaps the greatest female rapper of all time, not to mention a fashion and cultural icon.
She followed the time-tested formula of talent + hard work = success.
Salary.com also takes the traditional route in the way they provide salary data. Their data comes from employers, provided in wage surveys that they purchase and aggregate. In the HR world, the most respected data is from validated, industry surveys with documented sources, and Salary.com purchases more than 450 salary surveys each year, following industry best-practices.
The only downside is that they don’t disclose which surveys they purchase because they sign non-disclosure agreements to get the data. If Salary.com could disclose where they get their data from, they would be an A+ data source in the eyes of HR professionals.
(A more detailed explanation of Salary.com’s data sources and methodology can be found here.)
Kim Kardashian (a.k.a. Payscale.com)
Kim Kardashian took a different route to fame and fortune. She became perhaps the most famous and wealthiest reality TV star of all time. As with most reality TV stars, it is not immediately apparent what Kim’s talents are, other than her looks. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that she’s a talented businesswoman who parlayed her reality TV fame into multiple businesses, including clothing lines, fragrance products and endorsements.
She blazed a new trail to fame and wealth: leveraging reality TV stardom.
Likewise, Payscale.com is blazing a new trail when it comes to providing salary data. Payscale’s data comes entirely from individuals—4.5 million per month—submitted via their website, making it the largest and most nuanced salary survey in the world. They have 13,000 job classifications, dwarfing Salary.com’s 4,500. Payscale.com has taken a modern, pioneering approach to salary surveys: crowdsourcing information via the Internet.
But despite their innovative approach and impressive data, the vast majority of HR professionals are skeptical of Payscale.com’s salary data because it’s submitted entirely by random people on the Web. There’s no way to verify the authenticity of their information, something that scares HR professionals. Like many people’s skepticism of Kim Kardashian’s “talent,” the HR community has yet to be won over by Payscale’s data.
(A more detailed explanation of Payscale.com’s data sources and methodology can be found here.)
So, Who Comes Out on Top?
The big question is: which source should YOU use?
When preparing for a salary negotiation, it’s best to gather information from a wide variety of sources and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each one. So check out both of these resources, and let us know which one you prefer.
Would you vote for Nicki Minaj (Salary.com) or Kim Kardashian (Payscale.com)?
Joseph Richards is a Labor Economist and Salary Negotiation Consultant specializing in presenting compelling economic arguments to help clients get maximum salary increases. He has represented unions, management and individuals in wage and benefit negotiations.