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What should your desired salary be - Main Region

How to work out what your desired salary should be

One of the main reasons people change jobs is because they believe their current salary is uncompetitive. Along with a lack of promotional opportunities, poor management, poor training, a lack of flexibility, misaligned purpose or a more suitable organisational culture, salary is usually a key factor in our decision to change jobs. Often, employees feel they’re not being paid fairly in their current role, and therefore decide that the time has come for their skills, experience and qualifications to command the higher salary they think they deserve.
 
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. It’s counterproductive to add extra income to your salary, as your elevated figure can price you out of the market, lead the recruiter or hiring manager to assume you are over-qualified, or make you look dishonest and untrustworthy.
 
So, as a positive alternative, instead of answering the question “What’s your current salary?” with an inflated figure, focus your response on what your ‘desired’ salary is. Here, we’ll cover how you can determine what this figure should be.
 

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 – therefore, this is what you should be aiming for. 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. To help determine yours, you’ll need to research:
 
  • Refer to salary guides: Your first port of call should be consulting an up-to-date salary guide. Here at Hays, we publish an annual salary guide to give you an insight 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 an in-depth 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.
  • 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, friendly chat or LinkedIn private message away.
  • Research salaries on job boards: You can also compare similar roles and salaries by reviewing advertisements on job boards.

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, employee benefits, flexible work environments, upskilling, purpose, a good relationship with your manager, mental health and wellbeing support and work-life balance are all important considerations in the value exchange you receive for your skills and experience.
 
So, when considering an offer and comparing it to your desired salary, estimate the value of the benefits proposed and add these to the base salary. If necessary, ask your recruitment consultant to clarify the benefits 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.
 
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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