Career Advice Tuesday – “Interpreting Compensation Data Found on WebSites”

May 4, 2010

Dear Infosecleaders:

I recently was offered a position that is truly exciting to me and represents a good logical step in my career progression as an Information Security professional.  The opportunity will enable me to leverage my current skills,  develop new ones, and attain certifications and receive training that should benefit me as I progress toward my ultimate career goal.

During the interview process, when asked about compensation, I provided the new company some information regarding my desired compensation.  To my new employers credit, they prepared an offer for me that was equivalent to my request. The offer was about 20% greater in total compensation (base and bonus) then what I am currently earning.

I wanted to reflect for a day or so before formally accepting the offer to join the new firm (although my decision was basically made).  During that evening I went on some websites that offered position descriptions of what I believe corresponded to my new role.  What I discovered in my research was that the salary listed for these positions were more than the offer that was made.  Learning this provided me with some second thoughts.

I decided to accept the offer, but I kind of feel that I may have left some money on the table.  Quite frankly, since I accepted the offer, I have not slept that well.   Did I interpret this data correctly?


“Rip Van Winkle”
Dear “Mr. Van Winkle”:

The first thing that I can say to you is that the web is full of information, some of it is valid and some of it is not.  Many websites that quote compensation with under broad titles are poor sources of information due to the fact that they make broad generalizations about compensation without proper context.  The data associated with these position descriptions may not take into consideration the specific information about the position that you are applying and the value that you, yourself, bring to the new role.

Some of the variables that are not factored in include, the  amount of experience that is necessary for the position, the type of experience that is of value to the employer, the nature of the work that would be performed, the training and education experience, and most important your career development.   Also, many of these sites do not take into consideration the industry that you would be working in.  For example the same role in financial services will more than likely pay more than it would in health care.  In addition, the job titles linked to these roles, may mean different things to different organizations (a Vice President position in one organization may not equate to a Vice President role in another organization).  In conclusion, there just are too many variables that are not known to the provider of this data to properly relate it to your personal  situation.

What I think should be most important to you is that your new employer listened to your initial request, extended an offer that met your demands, provided you a meaningful increase (20% is a huge number in the current economy.  In addition, the new role that you have accepted is going to help you develop the skills that you have recognized as important to your career development.

The positions that you researched on the website may pay more, but they may offer you less.  Sometimes more money, does not equate to greater growth and long term development.

Good for you for doing your research.  But, please feel good about accepting your new role and this new opportunity.  It appears that you have made a very good decision and that your new employer has demonstrated their desire to have you be a part of their team.

Hopefully, after you have developed your new skills, you will make yourself significantly more marketable in the future.  If this is the case, the money will come.

Good luck in your new role.

Pleasant Dreams!

Mike and Lee

Posted by lee | Filed Under Uncategorized 


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