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How to calculate your desired salary

Posted on 26 January 2022

How to calculate your desired salary

​6-minute read

At some stage, either at the beginning of a process with a recruiter or towards the end with someone in the HR team, the sometimes-awkward stand-off of salary will take place. You might not want to put yourself out of the budget, and therefore simply resort to asking what the role is paying, which has been regarded as sound advice from many but we are here to tell you that you should stop that immediately (no seriously).

 

By asking what the budget is, you are disregarding a very important part of the decision-making process. You.

 

Understanding your desired salary is extremely important early on in your job search to determine what openings are right for you, and which might be wasting your time. It can be a little tricky to do this the first few times if it is new to you, but throughout this article, we will cover:

 

  • How to calculate your desired salary and range.

  • What to put in the salary section of application tracking systems.

  • Common mistakes to avoid with the salary topic.

 

How to calculate your desired salary and range

To get the most accurate desired salary, you need to consider a few angles: the market, your current and your personal circumstances. Let’s break them down in step order for you.

 

Step 1: Research

Thanks to online tools such as PayScale, Glassdoor and Salary.com the research step has been drastically shortened for most roles. Simply go to the relevant site, search for the desired role and explore market averages based on industry, location and skills.

If you operate within an area that has minimal data for now, then this step might take a little longer but using different search strings on various engineers will help uncover at least some indication to market averages for yourself.

 

Step 2: Go and speak with people

Armed with some basic research, now it is time to validate the numbers. Go and network with people in the role you are looking to step into, be transparent about your conversation and state you are looking to understand more about salaries within the market. If you ask them in the right manner and ensure it will be kept confidential, you will be surprised as to how many will share their current salary with you.

Don’t forget to push yourself outside of your immediate network as well however, network with specialist recruiters, join forums and start to engage with a wider group to truly find what the market value of your skills are today.

 

These first two steps should give you a pretty clear understanding of what the market is paying today, a range shall we say for now. Now we want to explore your current salary.

 

Step 3: Consider your current salary

Armed with a good average of the market, consider your current salary (if this is your first role in the industry, then this bit can be skipped). How do you fair compare to the market, on the higher side or lower?

This is important to understand because when you start processes you can bet that if your research was done correctly, offers will likely fall between your ranges, so if you are already on the higher side, it might be a good time to start exploring a role above to increase your knowledge and salary.

 

Step 4: Personal circumstances

It is always important to remember that the averages are just that, averages. Your personal circumstance might mean you need to earn more than the average (or maybe less). So, allow yourself to be guided by your research but not held hostage by it.

This does also mean if you are exploring above-average salaries that you might need to be a bit more transparent with recruiters and hiring managers from the beginning as to not waste time for either party.

 

Completing this 4-step process should give you a pretty clear picture of what you should be targeting based on the market, your current salary and personal needs. Giving you a specific range of numbers you can confidently take with you into processes and negotiations. Now we will explore a trick you can use to get around the salary section in application tracking systems and a few common mistakes surrounding salaries.

 

What to put in the salary section of application tracking platforms

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a tool used by most organisations these days. It is a platform where you apply for an opening and the system will pull information from your CV, cover letter and boxes provided to create a profile for you within the system.

It allows hiring teams to move you through a process and track your progression a lot easier, ensuring a smoother process for you and company.

Usually, in an ATS there is a field that says ‘desired salary’ and if you leave it blank, the clever system will flag it and not allow you to apply without it.

If you can write in this box, we suggest you put something such as: Negotiable, Flexible, Competitive etc.

If you need to put a number, then something such as: 111, 555 or something too unreal to be true such as €100

That way, you can still apply but the recruiter or manager on the other side is aware to bring salary up during the first call with you.

 

Common mistakes to avoid with the salary topic

It is always worth noting mistakes from others to help you avoid these yourself, feel free to reach out to us to help us add more over time:

 

Not really spending time researching the marketing, or your own circumstances to determine the right salary for you.

Simply accepting the market average based on one website and not following up with real conversations by those in the market.

Putting your desired salary in the ATS before you learn about the opening.

Not negotiating when you really wanted to.

Not having the right supporting information to back up your salary request.

Changing your salary throughout the process with no reasoning.

 

Having the desired salary to hand at the beginning of a search process will really help you negotiate later down the line from a more informed perspective and naturally help you achieve the right amount the first time. Use the simple 4 step process to understand yours, along with the remainder of this article to help you next time you need it.

 

If you feel someone could benefit from reading this article we would kindly ask you to share it with them and let's collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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