One of the more challenging aspects of applying for a job is responding to an employer’s request for salary expectations. This is a difficult question because no matter what salary you ask for, you might be at a disadvantage: if the salary you quote is too high, the employer might choose a more affordable candidate over you; however, if it’s too low, you might be undervaluing yourself, which can be perceived as a weakness.
So what should a job seeker do?
There are a number of considerations for job seekers when deciding what salary to ask for:
1. Calculate how much do you personally need to survive:
Calculate the minimum that you can live on. Make sure to include all the necessary factors. Figure out how flexible you could be (is it worth moving to a cheaper home, if it means more choices or opportunities?) and then calculate a reasonable number that, while not ideal, would be manageable. Calculate how much this is per hour, month and year.
2. Consider your last salary:
Using the hourly calculator, figure out how much you last salary was per hour/month/year. Remind yourself the nature of your previous benefits package. These could be useful points of reference when negotiating your salary.
3. Calculate the going salary rate in your field:
The going rate for a specific job is a difficult calculation, because there are many variables to consider, including:
- The average salary in your profession
- Your experience and skill level
- Where you fit into the salary range in your profession: entry-level, average or senior
- How salaries compare in your city to other locations
Calculating salary rates isn’t easy. You will find some sources online that will help, but be careful not to rely on them completely, because salary ranges can be wide and somewhat unpredictable.
Good sources for salary ranges include:
- Reports from recruitment agencies such as Robert Half Canada’s Salary Guides
- Salary sites, such as Payscale: Salary Data & Career Research Centre (Canada)
- Canadian government sources, such as The Job Bank: Explore Careers by Wages and Statistics Canada’s Wages, Salaries and other Earnings reports
Probably the most useful source of salary data is from current jobs. Check in with people you know (ask them the salary range in their company), and job postings (sign up for job alerts with sites such as Indeed.ca for jobs in your field — many jobs will include salary expectations).