There are many, varied sources for salary information:
One of the more up-to-date sources is salaries advertised on online job postings. You can find a list of online job boards here, on our blog. Some offer salary calculators, based on the data in the jobs posted on their site, such as Wowjobs Salaries or Monster Canada Salary Wizard.
Probably the most useful information can be found by speaking to people in your network — ask for salary ranges from people in the field (don’t ask “What’s your salary”, rather “what is the salary range for ..”). Pose a question in a suitable group in LinkedIn.
Online salary calculators, such as PayScale.com and PaycheckCity are popular, though sometimes too general sources of salary information. A colleague at Agilec, David McIntyre, recommends Glassdoor.com, as well as Working in Canada as useful sites.
Recruitment agencies sometimes report salary scales. For example, Robert Half International releases an annual report on salary trends. ZSA, a legal recruiting firm, publishes a salary report for Lawyers.
Some professional associations/sector specific sites do surveys of their users/members; for example, the Toronto Police and IT World, a job and resource board for IT professionals posts a salary calculator.
Google is your friend! Try searching for your job title, location and the word “salary” — e.g. “accountant salary Toronto”.
Take care when planning your negotiation:
A colleague at JVS Toronto, Bojana Balteva, shared that she cautions her clients that the problem with many of these scales is that they are general and often out of date. Salaries for similar positions may vary according to:
- the company — depends on their pay scale, size, other benefits
- the candidate — are their skills up to date? have they used them recently? how much relevant experience do they have?
- job specifics— the job might have unique requirements that other similar ones do not, such as a specific language, software or product knowledge<
- location — Wages for the same job in Toronto are different, for example, than in Calgary, due to different market demands, as well as variations in cost of living
Also, it is worth keeping in mind that salaries are only one part of an employment package which might include benefits (extended health, health and life insurance, vacation, staff pricing, professional development/training) and conditions of work (such as parking, flexibility, hours), which job searchers should consider when evaluating a salary. Don’t try to negotiate all of these; this will annoy the employer. Pick a couple of key items, and focus on them.
Don’t forget the intangibles that might come with the job — the aspects of the work that might not be worth money, but may affect how much you enjoy your job, including the simple advantage of being employed in this economy and not having a growing gap in your resume. Also, benefits such as likeable people, a convenient/accessible location, flexible hours or an enjoyable environment might make a big difference and be worth including in your decision. If pushed to answer the salary question in an interview, remember to be tentative:
“My research has shown that salaries for this job range between (…) and (…). Based on my skills and experience, I believe that for this position, a suitable salary for me would be at the (higher/lower) end of the range. I am, however, open to negotiating this.“
Overall, as David McIntyre suggests, “Prepare well, ask, then move forward.” Make sure to prepare a well thought through offer, which isn’t too rigid, overly detailed or aggressive. Know your minimum and be prepared to compromise and accept a reasonable offer. Remember that having accepting an offer is better than not — you can always move on to better things.