Salary: Determine Your Worth

Michelle Straka, B.A. Recruiting Consultant DGA Careers (July 2001)

It is important to be well informed and realistic when considering what you are worth to
employers in your industry. Determine what you are worth to potential employers before you begin your job search.

  1. Take stock of your skills. The following
    are questions that you should ask yourself: What do I have to offer a potential employer?
    Am I skilled in other areas that a potential employer can utilize, giving the company
    ‘more for their dollar’? Am I cross-trained in two areas that are traditionally
    separate? For example, many insurance companies are utilizing underwriters that have
    marketing or production capabilities instead of maintaining separate underwriting and
    marketing departments.

    Remember that, while having the technical
    skills required to do the job is important, having ‘soft-skills’ such as good
    communication, writing and analysis will add to your worth as an employee. Visit the
    website of the Insurance Institute of Canada
    to view the skills necessary for different occupations in the insurance industry such as
    underwriter, adjuster, actuary and broker.

  2. Monitor industry demands and trends. Keep
    an eye on the industry and the skill sets that are in demand. The insurance industry is
    constantly changing, and the demand for certain skill sets will follow. If you are
    interested in maximizing the salary that you earn, try conducting your job search during a
    period when your skill set is in high demand. A determining factor of higher salaries is
    the limited supply of a specific skill set in relation to the demand for it.

    In most cases, if you have a unique skill
    set you may command a higher salary. Keep tabs on the new trends emerging in the industry
    and respond by taking courses and developing skills that reflect those new trends. For
    example, computer skills are important as companies and brokerages increase their use of
    technology. Learn the computer systems that are most widely used by the industry.

  3. Review salary surveys and guides specific
    to the insurance industry. It will help to know what salaries your peers are making.
    Occupational salary ranges are detailed by Ontario Job Futures 2000 on Another method is to skim job
    postings to get a general idea of what insurance companies are paying.

  4. Know that where you live will have an
    impact on the salary you earn. Salary ranges vary from region to region. For example, the
    salary commanded by an underwriter may be considerably higher in Toronto than that of an
    underwriter in a smaller community. Keep this in mind when you are determining your
    monetary worth to avoid developing unrealistic expectations.

Salary can be the deciding factor in accepting a position, or it can be an impassable
roadblock. However, you can start your job search on the right note by knowing what salary you are able
to command at the outset!