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Competitive salary – What does this mean, and should I consider it?

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 9 Dec 2020

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We’ve all found ourselves looking at a job posting and seeing the words ‘competitive salary’. You’ve probably seen all the phrases ranging from ‘salary negotiable’ and ‘market rate pay’, but what does this even mean? Wouldn’t it just be simpler if the employer wrote how much they were going to pay you and be done with the matter? Probably, but not every company is going to give job seekers what they ask for. But does this mean that you shouldn’t apply for the job in question?

What does competitive salary mean?

Competitive salary typically means that the salary the employer may offer you will be equal to or more than the industry standard for that job title in that location. It’s used as a default description. For some job seekers, seeing this written in a job posting is an instant no, they won’t apply for the role simply because they may feel like the employer wants to see how little they can get away with paying said employee.

However, for some it can be seen as an opportunity. For the sake of ‘the glass is half full’, there might be room for salary negotiation. If you are to go for an interview and it be a success, what’s stopping you in impressing the interviewer and asking for a higher wage than they were initially expecting to offer?

Writing competitive salary on a job posting is unfortunately not going to stop. There will be employers that use it as a way to lure you in and offer you less than expected but for some, it’s just a way of seeing how good the talent pool the job attracts is. I’m not saying it’s the right way of doing things, but next time you see ‘competitive’ written in a job posting, do your research before disregarding it completely.

Your research

If you’re going to apply for a role that doesn’t state a specific salary, make sure you are researching how much this role SHOULD pay. If your application progresses and you are invited to an interview, you want to make sure that you know how much your time is worth. This way, if the employer offers you less than you expect, you can make a well-informed decision whether to accept, reject or try and negotiate their offer.

There are salary checker websites that can help you find out how much a job should pay but there are different variables that you should take into consideration. It’s not always as simple as ‘bigger companies have bigger budgets so can pay me more.’ Make sure you are researching the company and not just assuming big corporations will pay you a bigger salary. Another factor is location. London jobs are likely to pay more and other places with higher local rents will mean jobs pay more as well. You can check what other employers are paying for the same role in the same area to make sure you are getting a good number to compare.

It’s very important to be prepared. If you go into an interview with no salary knowledge you could ask for too much and lead to the employer thinking they can’t afford you or you can ask for too little and the employer thinking they can pay you less than your worth. After all, if you ask for less than they were going to offer, they’ll accept it!

When should you ask about salary?

For some reason, salary has become something people don’t like to talk about. Some companies make salary information confidential and may have their own reasons for this. You shouldn’t feel awkward about money and should feel free to ask about it whenever you feel is right. This could be when you are invited to an interview, during the first interview or if you want to know if the job is right for you before asking about salary, wait until the final interview. It’s different for everyone, but it is obviously very important to know!

What if they don’t offer enough?

We all have different limits and sometimes a company just won’t budge with negotiations and won’t offer you enough money. At the end of the day, we all have bills to pay and if it’s not right for you, you’re not obligated to accept the job just because they have offered it to you.

However, it’s good to understand what else the company may offer you in exchange for a lower salary. What does their benefit scheme look like? It’s important to consider all factors and if you would actually like to do the job.

It can be a little disheartening when you see ‘competitive salary’ written on a job posting you were really interested in. But it doesn’t have to be the end for that role. It will take more time, but use salary checker websites, look up their company benefits, really think about how much you want the job. Salary is a big factor in your job search, and I understand that if you don’t think the company will know your worth, it’s better to just move on. But the next time you see a job you really like but it doesn’t state a salary, try doing some of the things I mentioned above and see how it goes. What have you got to lose?