What should your desired salary be - Main Region

How to work out what your desired salary should be

Along with the rising cost of living, a lack of promotional opportunities and poor management or workplace culture, remuneration is a key factor in our decision to change jobs.

It doesn’t pay to inflate your salary too much when speaking to a recruiter or hiring manager during the initial stages of your job search. Picking an amount that is too high can price you out of the market and lead the recruiter or hiring manager to assume you are over-qualified.  

Being realistic in your salary expectations can increase your chance of finding a job that’s a good fit for you and your skills. So, instead of answering the question “What’s your current salary?” with an overly inflated figure, focus your response on what your ‘desired’ salary is. 

How to work out what your ‘desired’ salary should be

A reasonable desired salary is what someone with your combination of skills, experience and qualifications can fairly and realistically hope to earn. When job searching and discussing salary with a recruiter or employer, the desired salary you share must be an accurate and realistic reflection of the market rate for the types of roles you’re interested in. 

However, determining what your desired salary should be isn’t always straight forward – you’ll need to do the research. 

  • Refer to salary guides: Consulting an up-to-date salary guide should be your first step. We publish an annual salary guide to give you insights into typical salaries for your role specific to location and industry. 
  • Speak to a recruitment consultant: A specialist recruiter who focuses on your area of expertise will have knowledge of salaries in your field. They speak to both employers and candidates daily and can provide an accurate barometer of what you can hope to earn based on your skills, experience and qualifications. 
  • Consider your experience: Your desired salary should reflect your level of experience, skills and qualifications relevant to the job.
  • Ask your network: Ask yourself who you already know in a similar role who could share current compensation trends. You may find a great deal of advice and experience is only a phone call, chat or LinkedIn private message away.
  • Research advertised salaries: You can also compare similar roles and salaries by reviewing job vacancies.
  • Consider your current package: If you are employed, review your current financial salary. When people change jobs, they naturally expect a salary increase, but your current salary can help you determine a realistic range for your next job. 

Remember, salary is only one part of the picture

It’s important to remember that salary is one part of the value exchange between employer and employee. Happy and productive employees are motivated by more than money alone. While there’s no denying salary is vital, your emotional salary is just as important for most people. Your emotional salary consists of intangible benefits such as flexible working, recognition, upskilling, purpose, a good relationship with your manager, mental health and wellbeing support and work-life balance

So, when considering an offer and comparing it to your desired salary, estimate the value of the emotional salary elements and add these to the base salary. If necessary, ask your recruitment consultant to clarify the emotional salary a prospective employer is offering. It could be that the figure you desire can be achieved as part of a total compensation package. 

A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work

Ultimately, this is what we all want from our career. When we don’t feel that’s what we’re getting, the temptation can be to look elsewhere, especially if we feel we have developed the skills, knowledge and experience to take on a more challenging role. 

However, being paid fairly for what you do isn’t only achievable by changing jobs. If you’re otherwise happy with your role, have a discussion with your manager and negotiate a pay rise.

Similarly, be open to negotiate an offer. Neither your desired salary or the employer’s first offer are set in stone. Be prepared to discuss your salary expectations, supported with the evidence you collected from recent salary guides and advertised roles. 
Finally, be realistic in your approach, whether that means having a quiet chat with your current manager or finding external resources to assist you. Remain sensible in your expectations to avoid overinflating the salary you can realistically command – and find a role that will deliver what you’re worth. 

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