Know your worth - what salary should you be asking for? | RE Resource Group

It’s said that money talks. But talking about money – or more specifically, salary – is something that makes most people (especially us Brits!) feel very uncomfortable. This in turn means that most of us lack the confidence to ask for the salary we really want, perhaps questioning whether we really deserve it. But going in low, and hoping that recognition of good performance will equal reward is not best practice, because most companies will feel they don’t have to pay you more than your current salary if your role isn’t changing. It’s far better to know your worth from the outset, so that you can go into a role knowing that you are being paid a fair salary that’s representative of your skills, experience and responsibility, and to also then keep an eye on market value for similar roles as and when your salary is up for review.

A study from reported that 68% of adults surveyed found salary negotiations stressful. But the truth of the matter is that at every stage of an interview process, and in your daily contribution, you are pitching yourself to your employer (or potential employer) by demonstrating your value. Should the issue of pay be any different? Our wages are an integral part of our life – it’s one of the main reasons why we go to work after all, to earn money – and feeling we are paid fairly goes a long way to achieving job satisfaction.

Provided you come to the table armed with the right information, you’ll be well equipped to secure the salary you deserve. So what is the right information? Knowing exactly what you are worth to an employer. Generally speaking, this will be determined by the following factors – experience, skill set and market demand. To get a salary that fairly reflects your worth, you need to place an accurate value on each of these aspects.

First and foremost, do your research. If you are looking to move into a new role, the internet can be a good place to start. Job sites, forums and online salary calculators can help you find out information on average salaries for most sectors and the position you are considering, based on your level of experience. Specialist recruitment consultants can also help in setting remuneration expectations. Get in touch if you need some help with this. It’s important to recognise, however, that different employers will have different capabilities when it comes to pay, with big corporations likely to have greater spending power than a small company, so bear this in mind when you are considering what salary to ask for.

Salary expectation and negotiation

If you are already in employment but feel your wage isn’t reflective of your role, find out what level your employer considers you to be working at. For instance, you might think you are performing at a senior level because of title or responsibility, but your manager may be evaluating you at mid-level. If you are frequently exceeding all of your targets and key performance indicators, though, it might be time to broach the subject of what you feel you contribute to the company. Regular appraisals can help in this regard, because if there is some disagreement as to your seniority, it can help you form a clear idea of the actions you need to take in order to progress.

Once you have assessed the going rate for your position, or potential position, you need to consider how valuable you are in that particular competitive market. Ultimately, job hunting is all about supply and demand. How vital are your skills to a particular industry? Is this a job that many people could do, or is it a niche area of work? Does it require a level of specialist experience? These are the sort of questions you need to be asking yourself to work out a fair value for your manpower. The rarer you and your skills are, the higher a salary you can command.

Once you have an idea of the pay scale you would be comfortable with, it’s time to discuss this with your employer. All companies are ultimately businesses with targets to meet and a balance sheet to maintain. They will be looking to get maximum value out of any investment – workforce included – but remember that most companies will approach an employment contract fairly. Much like any other area of business, it’s an agreement for the benefit of both parties, so the aim is for everybody to feel they have reached a fair deal. So, whilst you should be prepared to allow room for negotiation when you decide upon your expectations, also decide upon the minimum figure you will accept – and stick to it.

Do you feel comfortable discussing your salary with your employer, or do you find it a taboo subject? Share your thoughts (and tips!) with us over on Facebook or Twitter and see how others approach the conversation.