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The Trouble with Salary Surveys

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What exactly do I mean by a ‘Salary Survey’ is, I suppose, the first question to answer.

A Salary Survey is a report which is published by various sources but most notably by Recruitment Companies which purports to offer a detailed analysis of salaries right across the country and offer up a salary range and consequently an average salary or ‘market rate’. At this time of year, they seem to gain in prominence.

Many employers and job seekers will use a salary survey as some sort of bartering rod when it comes to appraisal or promotion time – almost an objective justification of a salary which negates the need for a reasoned negotiation.

A ‘market rate’ is largely a myth. Let’s take a Newly Qualified Solicitor. Just now, there are 2015 Qualified solicitors earning £20,000. There are 2015 Qualified solicitors earning £38,000.

So many variables –both tangible, and intangible –combine to determine what remuneration someone is willing to work for and conversely, what an employer is willing to pay.

Take yourself as average. Would you be willing to earn a bit less in return for less pressure or indeed fewer hours ‘on the clock’? Experience tells me many of you would and this is increasingly common. Your level of Post Qualifying experience does not diminish if you take a cut in pay so right away you are out of kilter with the mythical ‘market rate’.

My advice is to ignore salary surveys. Ignore what your competitors are paying. Ignore what your friends claim to be earning.

Employers –you must focus upon creating a culture which nurtures respect and opportunity for employees. Employees –you must focus on seeking the best ‘opportunity’. Your definition of a good opportunity will be very specific to you and you should never be swayed from it –regardless of what any salary survey may say.

A high salary is not synonymous with success or fulfilment, nor does paying high salaries guarantee that you have a fully engaged workforce.

The trouble with salary surveys is they tend to make assumptions –and often the wrong ones.

Written by: Sarah McParland, Managing Director

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