You’ve spotted the perfect vacancy with a job description that ticks all the boxes, a location you love and an employer with a great reputation. But then you notice the words “competitive salary” and your heart sinks. Have you experienced this crushing sense of disappointment? Then read on, as we reveal everything you need to know about competitive salaries.
Why do some employers avoid stating a salary?
The phrase ‘competitive salary’ means that the salary on offer is equal to or above-the-market rate for a similar post. Why is it so commonly used by employers? There are several reasons.
Employers may want to leave room for negotiation and flexibility, as their final decision will depend on their chosen candidate’s expectations and experience.
They might consider salary information to be confidential and prefer to keep these details private.
They may want to filter out applicants who are only interested in the pay on offer.
They might wish to attract highly experienced candidates who earn more than their standard pay range.
How to find out if a salary is competitive
To negotiate a salary you’re happy with, you need to know what people in similar jobs are being paid. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who is already doing your dream job, why not ask them about their salary? Alternatively, you could do your research online, as many companies do specify salaries in their job adverts.
This method can be time-consuming; so you’ll be glad to know there is an easier way to find the information you need. If you enter your qualifications, your gender and how many years’ experience you have, salary checker tools like the one on the PayScale website will reveal the salary range and average salary of any particular job. When you’re ready to apply for a specific post you can also enter extra details including benefits such as health insurance and gym memberships.
LinkedIn’s salary checker provides a similar service. In exchange for typing in your current salary you’ll get a detailed breakdown of salaries related to your chosen job and your preferred location. LinkedIn also offers salary information based on company size, industry, field of study and education level.
of employees believe flexible working to be the most important job perk
It’s not all about the money
According to the salary experts at PayScale, a competitive salary isn’t just about the money on offer. It also covers benefits, incentives and perks that could enhance your lifestyle or allow you to spend more time with family and friends. Here are some of the perks a benefits package might include:
The feel of a workplace and the opportunities on offer in terms of career development and training are also crucial when you’re applying for jobs.
Once you’ve done your salary research and considered the value of any benefits on offer, you’ll need to decide on a minimum figure that would persuade you to accept the job. It’s also worth considering whether you’d be willing to accept a slightly lower salary if the job you’re applying for has plenty of appealing extras. Doing this before the negotiations start will help you to stand firm.
How to negotiate a competitive salary
It’s much better for you if salary negotiations happen after you’ve been offered the job. Why? Well, the recruitment process takes a lot of time and money, so if you’ve received a firm job offer you can be sure that your potential employer really wants to hire you. This gives you a definite advantage.
Unfortunately, some employers try to start the ball rolling at a much earlier stage, by asking how much you currently earn. If your first interview includes this question avoid revealing any figures, especially if your salary is at the lower end of the range. Here are three responses that may help you to deflect the question and keep the focus on the salary you’d like.
Explain that the role you’re applying for has a wider scope than your current post, making any previous earnings irrelevant.
Mention that this question is banned in some countries due to concerns about equal pay.
Say that you’re looking at salaries in the range of…
Disappointed with the initial offer you receive? Don’t be afraid to ask whether there’s any flexibility, as there usually is. Even if the offer does meet your target, it’s still worth politely pushing for either more money or extra benefits, as long as any counter offer is realistic. It’s pretty obvious that a small start up won’t have the same budget as a large, well-established company.
By demystifying the phrase ‘competitive salary’ we hope we’ve given you the knowledge and negotiation skills you need to apply for jobs without a specific salary. Do your research, exude confidence and you should come away with the salary you deserve.
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