How to Determine and Use Your Market Value (Part 1)

Jeff Cuellar



Marcus Aurelius wrote: “A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.” Of course, he didn’t have “market value” in mind when he wrote it 1,800 years ago. But he has a point – if you don’t value yourself highly, what makes you think others will? By knowing your market value, you can keep your employer honest about giving you the pay you deserve.

While I’m not Karl Marx’s biggest fan, I think most of us can relate to his idea of commodification – the realisation that in the end, you’re just an overhead expense in your employer’s accounts ledger. So play their “numbers” game by finding out and documenting what you’re really worth.

Here’s how you can determine your baseline market value:


Find Your Job’s Salary Range


If you’re working like a dog, it’s time to reevaluate your situation so at least you’re sleeping on a Sealy after the next paycheck.


Accepting your current/prospective employer’s market value assessment without doing your own research is like trusting a Sim Lim Square vendor’s claim that he’s giving you the “best deal.” It’s an expensive gamble that can cost you thousands per year in lost potential income. That’s because you don’t know whether their value appraisal came from guesswork, a recruiter’s subjective advice, or a professional compensation survey.

The first step to finding your market value is to discover the median income for someone doing your job. This will serve as the baseline for determining whether you’re being paid according to the market rate or not. As you conduct your research, be sure to document and record your findings.

Here are several easy ways to find the salary range for your job:


1. Check Salary Scale Websites

Websites such as Jobiness and allow you to create a salary data “profile” so you can compare your salary against other Singaporeans in a variety of Industries. Additionally, you can even evaluate compensation based on employer, experience, education, company size, etc., which gives you a more accurate picture of your market value.


2. Check Government Figures

Every June, the Ministry of Manpower releases a yearly 180+ page “yearbook” full of manpower information covering just about every labor statistic in Singapore – including the average monthly earnings according to industry. The latest figures should be available now on the MOM website.


3. Check Job Portals

Look through popular job portals such as JobsDB, JobsCentral, STJOBS, and Adecco and search for jobs similar to yours (skills/experience/duties). Some job listings will reveal the salary offered, which can help you determine your market value. Keep in mind that the listed salary can vary greatly, as MNCs typically pay higher salaries than SMEs.


4. Check Your Competitor’s “Careers” Page

Search the careers page on your competitor’s website and see if there are any listings for a job similar to yours. If there is, call the company’s HR manager and politely ask what they would pay for someone with your skills/experience. Try to get the HR manager’s answer via email if possible for easy documentation, but black out any identifying information if there’s a disclaimer on the email about any information being “private” and “confidential.”


5. Check Free HR/Recruiter Salary Reports

Many HR and recruitment agencies such as Michael Page, Hays, Kelly Services, and Robert Walters create free salary reports taken from client surveys and hiring data during the year. These reports not only provide salary ranges, but offer analysis on the current/future job atmosphere so you can gain insight on your job’s future prospects.


6. Check Your Networks

Use your personal, professional, and social media networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to ask industry contacts (especially those in HR) about the market value for someone with your qualifications. If you’re lucky, you can even get current salary numbers from friends with similar qualifications.


A Note to Fresh Graduates


Yes fresh grads, listen to Tom on this one! But ignore him when he starts rambling about Lord Xenu…


The Ministry of Education conducts annual employment surveys for recent NUS, NTU and SMU graduates that highlights salary numbers according to their degree program. The Joint Polytechnic GES Committee conducts similar surveys that provide a salary listing for Polytechnic graduates as well. Use these surveys to ensure you’re being paid fairly at your first job.

Surprised By Your Research?

With the information you’ve gathered from these sources, you can put together an adequate baseline pay range e.g. $30,000 – $35,000 that will help indicate whether you’re underpaid, or seriously underpaid! But you still need to narrow your market value by evaluating important salary factors such as experience, certifications and job scope.

In Part 2, we’ll explore what other factors can contribute to narrowing down your market value, and more importantly, what to do with your research. 


Do you know any other ways to find out your market value? Share them with us on Facebook!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.