If you read our blog, you already know that we recommend listing a salary when putting together a job advertisement. It will help you attract a larger number of candidates, and if the salary range is competitive, better qualified candidates. But how do you determine a competitive salary range for a position? What will attract the candidates you want?
There are many factors that help determine a competitive salary for job seekers, but two of the main ones are location and job title. Just like the cost of living fluctuates across the country, so does the average compensation for identical job titles. For instance, in Bozeman, Montana, the average Accountant job listing includes a salary of $47,000. Compare that with New York City, where those same types of listings average $76,000. Translation: If you’re recruiting in a large city but are expecting to pay a small town salary, you’re going to have challenges attracting top talent.
Similarly, the job title you choose to use should also align with the salary range you list. A job title is typically how job seekers will find your post. However, if the types of candidates that are finding your position are overqualified for what your position actually entails, they won’t apply. For instance, if you have a position that you want to call a Social Media Specialist but in reality is closer to an Administrative Assistant both in duties and salary, the differences in compensation for those titles can be dramatic.
To avoid these challenges, there are many resources available online that can help you determine a competitive salary:
Not content with simply being one of the biggest job boards in the world, Indeed also wants to be involved with everything related to recruiting—that includes providing useful salary information to jobseekers and recruiters. You can search based both on job title and location, which as explained above, can be very useful. One especially useful tool is to compare positions, either by job or location. You can search for jobs based on job title, keywords, or even company. The numbers they provide are pulled from the various jobs that are posted to their site.
Note: If you’re looking based on your job title, make sure to select the “Search Job Titles Only” after you search to help narrow in on your specific position.
In addition to functioning as a job board and employer review site, Glassdoor also can be a resource for information on typical salaries. Either employees or jobseekers provide all of the information posted on Glassdoor. Just like Indeed, Glassdoor allows you to search based on salary and location to find typical averages in your area.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, is responsible for tracking labor market activity for the federal government. They freely share their economic findings with the public as well. As it relates to determining salaries, their Occupational Employment Statistics can be a useful tool in seeing what averages are nationwide.
Occupations are separated into categories, and most of the job titles are fairly broad in nature, meaning you might not find the exact specific title you’re seeking. When you select a position, some information you are given will include the mean hourly and annual salary, percentile wages, and a breakdown by industry.
Note: These numbers are national averages and are not location specific, so the job market in your area will likely be higher or lower than the national average.
One way to determine a competitive salary to offer candidates is to research directly what businesses competing for candidates in your location are offering by looking for the job title on job boards. Beyond Indeed, job boards like LinkedIn, Craigslist or CareerBuilder often have salary information listed with their advertisements. Viewing other companies’ job advertising will give you an idea of what various positions are valued at in various locations.
There is a plethora of sites catering to both employers and employees that specifically provide salary information. Some sites are paid, others are free of cost, but they all function essentially the same way. Using multiple sites to determine a competitive salary may be ideal.
A final note on salary: You can be broad
Don’t forget that when listing a salary, you can list a range instead of an exact number. For instance, if you have a position that the ideal salary is $70,000 but you want to get a range of candidates, you could list $60,000-$80,000 in the ad. $60,000 could be for candidates that could be considered stretch candidates—those who are slightly underqualified but can grow into the position. $80,000 may be for someone that is an “ideal” candidate—someone possibly overqualified but who can hit the ground running. By listing $60,000-$80,000 and “commensurate with experience,” you not only broaden the number of candidates for the position, but you also give yourself a window to negotiate when it comes to giving a candidate a job offer.