It’s not always easy to know what you should be paid, let alone what a competitive salary is for your job. (Though Glassdoor does make it much easier; more on that below!) But that is exactly why we’ve created this guide: Here, we’re walking you through what a competitive salary is and how to find it—plus, we’re sharing tips for how to make sure you get it in a salary negotiation.
So read on, and we promise you’ll know—and hopefully get—what you’re really worth at work.
What’s a Competitive Salary?
Loosely defined, a competitive salary is one that’s equal to or more than the industry standard for your job—for your experience level, and in the same geographical area in which you live, that is.
So, in other words, if you are a third-year software developer in London, a competitive salary for you is the average salary other third-year software developers in London earn. What a tenth-year software developer in Manchester earns, for instance, won’t factor into your competitive salary.
Usually, the more experience you have, the higher a competitive salary will be for your job. But where you live might influence what a competitive salary is even more than experience. A BBC report shows that people make more in London than any other city in the UK—no matter their field. On the flip side, workers in Southend can expect to be paid the least, according to the BBC.
It’s imperative that you know what a competitive salary is for your field in order to successfully negotiate any initial offer. After all, if you don’t know what you’re worth, how can you know if a potential employer has extended a reasonable offer—or has significantly low-balled your salary?
How Can I Find What a Competitive Salary is in My Field?
Before you begin an interview process, it’s smart to research what a competitive salary is for the job for which you’re applying, considering your experience and the potential job’s location. But luckily, the research isn’t difficult—in fact, Glassdoor’s salary tools make it very simple indeed.
Start by visiting Glassdoor’s Salaries page, where you can enter your job title and location, and Glassdoor will show the average salaries reported by Glassdoor users with that same job and in that same location. For example, entering “retail manager” in “London, UK” yields that retail managers, on average, earn £34,935 per year.
The Salaries page also shares job listings that match the title you’ve searched. Be sure to check those out as well, because they will give you an idea of what other companies are offering.
How Can I Negotiate a Competitive Salary?
Now that you know what you’re worth, it’s time to get it—or even more!—in your next offer.
When an employer makes an offer, evaluate it based on the research you’ve done: Have they offered a competitive salary for your job and location? If not, then it’s time to negotiate it.
Start by asking how the company arrived at its number. By asking this question, you’ll be able to see if the number you’re being offered is a hard cap or a potential springboard for negotiation.
If there’s wiggle room, explain that you’ve done your research, and the average pay for similar positions is higher. Then ask if the company would be willing to meet that average, providing them with the findings of your research. If they can’t budge on pay, don’t forget: You may also be able to negotiate other benefits to make the offer more attractive, such as extra holiday time.
If you’re nervous to negotiate, it’s smart to find someone to listen to your proposal for a salary increase, so you can feel the cadence of your speaking points out loud in a conversational setting. After all, much of a successful negotiation boils down to feeling comfortable and well-prepared.
And it’s important to never accept a first offer, even if that offer is in line with what’s considered a competitive salary for your job and location. Instead, tell the employer you need to think about the offer, and ask if you can provide a response in 24 to 48 hours. You may decide to come back with a counter offer—and be pleasantly surprised to find out the employer is willing to pay more.
Now that you know all about competitive salaries, here are some other resources you might need!