Here's a quick way to find out if you might be underpaid

“Am I earning what I deserve?” It’s the question every worker has asked herself at least once. How do you know you’re being paid fairly given your experience and what your peers are earning? You could ask around the office, but even in 2016, salary discussions are still a taboo topic around the water cooler.

Jobs marketplace Glassdoor.com has developed a new tool to help employees estimate their own job market value. The “Know Your Worth” tool is intended to help you cut through the fog, and get a pretty decent estimate of your true earning potential.

“[Know Your Worth] is all about empowering people to do their research and really know what their market value is,” Scott Dobroski, a spokesperson for Glassdoor, told MagnifyMoney. Dobroski said Glassdoor hopes the release of the tool will encourage employers to be more transparent with their employees about how their pay is determined.

The “Know Your Worth” tool is free to use. The tool asks for five pieces of information: your title, employer, salary, location, and years of work experience. The tool then uses an algorithm to tell you the median base salary you could earn in your location — and, most important, whether you’re overpaid or underpaid and by how much.

The market value estimates are not perfect, and everyone will not be able to get a result from the tool, Glassdoor admits. The company relies on millions of pieces of data collected from Glassdoor users over the years, as well as its own proprietary research of supply and demand for jobs in a range of fields.  Still, at this time the tool can only give an estimated market value for about 55% to 60% of the U.S. workforce.

Here are the pros and cons of the tool:

Pros:

It’s free

Who doesn’t like free things? To top that, no cost makes the tool a good fit for a cash-strapped individual looking for a simple way to get a rough estimate of their market value.

You can use the tool to weigh potential job offers

One of the tricky parts about salary negotiations is knowing how much or how little to ask for. If you have multiple offers, you might be able to use the Glassdoor tool to find out if one job’s offer is on par with what people in your field and at your experience level are currently earning. If it’s way low, you might want to ask for more or at least do more research.

You can apply directly to better-paying jobs

The results page presents you with the salaries and links to apply for jobs with similar titles in your location, or for jobs that might be a common next move for those in your field. That could be helpful if you’re thinking of making a career shift soon.

A 21-year-old assistant media planner at an advertising agency in New York discovered she was underpaid by 24%, but wasn’t surprised. “I was warned of my company's low salary rates, but I was striving to get my foot in the industry door,” she said.

Cons:

It’s missing about 40%-45% of occupations

As we mentioned, at this time the tool can only give an estimated market value for about 55% to 60% of the U.S. workforce. If the tool can’t give you your market value, try using Glassdoor’s salary explorer instead. This tool lets you play with a variety of pay factors and other types of jobs in the market.

It doesn’t factor in compensations or other benefits

All of the other things that go into a person’s pay such as bonus compensations or benefits aren’t considered in the calculation, so the base pay may not be reflective of the total compensation a worker gets. Perhaps you are underpaid on your base salary, but you are given generous benefits like a 401(k) match, 100% employer-paid health care, or several months’ paid maternity and paternity leave. Those benefits have true monetary value that can add to your base salary.  Glassdoor says as the learning algorithm gets smarter it plans to add variables like benefits to the model.

There is no cost of living comparison

There’s a feature on the bottom of the results page that lets you tinker with your inputs to see what you would be paid if you lived in another city, or had more job experience, etc. It gives you a base pay estimate, but doesn’t reflect the city’s cost of living to give an idea of whether or not your lifestyle would change if you moved.

For now, you can use PayScale’s Cost of Living Calculator to get around that.


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