Is your job paying you what you're worth? Here's how to find out

PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images
PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images

Many people don’t really know whether their salary is market related. Even well-paid individuals often think they’re not being paid enough, according to research by salary survey company PayScale. Here’s how you can ensure your salary is market-related – and the things to look out for when you apply for a new job.

Find out if it’s a fair offer

When applying for a new job, it’s important to know the minimum and maximum salaries for that level of position in your industry. Firstly, this allows you to make sure you aren’t being offered too little. Secondly, it shows your prospective employer that you’re abreast of developments in your industry and capable of taking informed decisions. Here’s how to research market-related salary scales before your interview:

- Look at annual salary surveys done by companies such as CareerJunction, Michael Page and PayScale (see Get Help Here for contact details). These surveys reflect the average, minimum and maximum salaries in various industries and work environments.

- Speak to recruitment consultants.

- Look at job ads online on sites such as LinkedIn or on the prospective employer’s website. Specifically look at salary offers for positions in your job grade.

- Friends and colleagues in your industry can also give you an indication of what other employers pay people in similar positions.

Understand your salary package

When comparing salaries, you must consider your full salary package. Recruiters say many employees mistakenly view the amount paid into their bank account monthly as their salary, instead of the full package they earn. For example, they might say they earn R20 000 a month when the real value of their package is R35 000 a month.

The complete package is usually called the “cost to company” or the “guaranteed remuneration package”. This is the total amount the employer spends on you, the employee, and includes benefits and extras before deductions (such as income tax or pension fund contributions). This is usually the amount given in a job ad.

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Factors that could affect your salary

Keep the following in mind when applying for a job:

- The location.

Salary offers for the same job might vary between provinces and depend on whether the position is in an urban or rural area.

- Your experience.

If the position is meant for someone with 10 years’ experience and you don’t have it, you’ll be offered a lower salary than the advertised amount.

- Your job grade.

If you’re just starting out, you can’t expect to be paid the same as a manager in your division.

 - The employer’s resources. Salaries are also dependent on how the company is doing financially – so a large, secure corporate will be able to offer a higher salary than a start-up, for instance.

- The demand for your specific skill set.

Earning potential is often linked to the demand for certain skills. If there’s a limited number of candidates, many employers will offer a higher salary to attract these skills.

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Look out for these benefits

When applying for a position, don’t just focus on the salary amount. Consider other benefits the company might offer, such as:

 - Training.

This is the fastest way to expand and develop your skills, which will come in handy during salary increase negotiations.

- Flexible working hours.

- Additional paid leave.

By law, permanent employees must get a certain number of days annual leave, but you can negotiate for extra paid leave days.

 - Opportunities for promotion.

Read the contract carefully before signing

Make sure the contract stipulates the remuneration and benefits you’ve agreed to. If there are bonuses, the contract must stipulate when they’re payable and how the amount is calculated. Your job title, job description and responsibilities must be stated clearly.