Calculating your worth during a job search should be an informed exercise done before interviews start. While a good understanding of the value of your background and experience is critical, it is also important to have some knowledge of the compensation structure of any companies you would like to work for. This information is not always easy to get.

Our recruitment team serves as an intermediary between our clients and candidates in this regard, for example. It can help both parties correctly level their expectations. However, candidates conducting their own job search may find it difficult to calculate both their organizational value and salary expectations.

You can start with vetted industry job descriptions published by organizations such as the Foushée Group. They examine various position levels in security-relevant sectors and will help you determine where your responsibilities and skill set places you.

You can pair this information with regional security salary studies that can give you an idea of where you are and where you want to be compensation-wise. Some are more accurate than others, but they can be useful and help you understand intermediate steps in your compensation. Asking friends how much they think you should be earning usually yields unreliable data.

Many security professionals transition from the public sector into private industry. Those who can translate prior skill sets into relatable terms for a corporation generally see a positive compensation result. Others who simply rely on the initials of their former agency to guarantee high salaries are usually disappointed.

Public sector candidates can view the concept of salary bands in corporations as not dissimilar to government job grades. They apply across the organization and jobs are sorted into different levels within each department. Companies are particular about the salary point at which they will hire someone and are concerned about parity across the organization for similarly graded roles.

Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the job. Try to get a view of how the company structures their compensation. Then, give clear reasons why your experience proves you are the right person at the right price point for the job. This can help neutralize any learning curves a private sector employer might perceive about someone coming right out of government.

Private sector job seekers should be aware that most companies will not offer someone a job at a salary that is excessively higher than where they are now. Regardless of whether you are earning $150K or $250K, the company will likely only offer something a reasonable percentage over your current salary.

Corporations want their employees to have potential for both professional growth and salary increases. Pricing yourself at the high end of the salary spectrum means you will have nowhere to go in the range and will effectively cap your potential within the organization. Companies will generally not hire someone if they think this will be the case.

Over- or understating your salary expectations are mistakes that can cost you a job offer you really want. Position yourself to get the job offer you want at the salary point that works for both you and your employer by doing the calculations ahead of time.