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A guide to UK salaries
We all want to be paid what we’re worth – especially when it comes to taking a new job. Few people will move roles without being satisfied with the financial package being offered by their new employer – and that satisfaction often comes from the knowledge that the remuneration package is a fair reflection of a candidate’s skills, experience and role fit.
For this reason, agreeing on a financial package when taking a new job can be a complex negotiation – and not something any candidate should attempt unarmed with vital information.
If you want to check your salary against the average for your role, use our Salary Comparison Tool. This will give you a valuable benchmark when the time comes to discuss money. However, there are a number of other factors to consider.
UK salaries: how are they determined?
Whilst it’s important to be aware of the average UK salary for your role to check yourself against the competition, it’s also key to understand the drivers behind how employers set their salaries in the first place. A whole range of factors can drive salaries up and down, and knowing these could not only help you to decide which roles to go for but also which sectors to work in in the first place. Here are four of the main ones to be aware of:
It goes without saying that the UK employment market is underpinned by the state of the economy. In the simplest terms, there will be less work to go around at times of recession – as experienced in the years following the 2008 financial crisis – than at times when the economy is in better health. In turn, when there’s less work to go around, generally salaries will be driven down by a surplus of people applying for those roles. For this reason, it’s always important to consider any job offer in the context of the wider economy and the future job prospects of employees in the sector. Although tracking the share price of a company may feel intangible if you’re joining at entry level, being aware of the financial position of a potential employer is vital if you want to understand your future job security or potential for promotion.
Supply and demand is the axis upon which business is built – and this certainly comes into play when it comes to wages. Quite simply, the more in demand your role is from an employer point of view, the more you can expect to be paid. With many sectors experiencing skills shortages, it’s important to understand exactly how many people you are competing with for a role when it comes to taking a salary. To put it another way, if you refused to take a job as the salary did not meet your expectations, how easy would it be for the employer to find someone with equivalent skills and experience? Demand can go the other way, however. If a degree course or professional qualification experiences a rise in popularity, you may find that when the time comes to find a job that employers have more talented people applying than they need. This in turn can drive down salaries.
Demand can also be driven by location. While some skills can be in huge demand in some towns and cities, in others there can be a surplus – so keep in mind whether looking a bit further afield could increase your prospects and make you more attractive to an employer. Although most roles advertise a benchmark salary, location can also play a factor in whether you get a package at the higher or lower end of the bracket. Generally speaking, salaries in London are higher for the same role than anywhere else in the country to factor in the higher cost of living in the capital. This is known as the London Weighting and applies across the public and private sector. You may find that location is also a factor outside the capital, with employees in bigger cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Bristol able to expect higher salaries than their equivalents in smaller towns.
It’s important to consider that although you can expect to command a higher salary in some cities compared to others, you need to make sure that the weighting accurately reflects the rise in your cost of living. There may be little point in taking a 5% pay rise if your cost of living increase is nearer 10 or 20%, for example.
Many roles will come with an advertised salary bracket, with the actual wages on offer determined by experience levels as well as skills and qualifications. Generally speaking, the more experienced you are in a role and sector, the higher salary you can expect to be able to command. However, it’s not an exact science. Employers will always be on the lookout for fresh talent with fresh perspectives and ideas – so relying on experience alone when it comes to negotiating a salary is not enough.
What if your sector is stagnant?
As mentioned above, many sectors and roles can go through peaks and troughs in terms of salary growth, based on the state of the economy and demand levels for skills. For this reason, it’s a good idea to also consider the employee benefits package when taking on a new role. Many employers offer a whole range of perks to their staff – and choosing the right ones to suit your lifestyle could save you serious money, even if the salary on offer is at the lower end of what you were expecting. Not sure which benefits could work for you? Use our Employee Benefits Quiz to find out which ones could be most beneficial for you.
Ultimately, when it comes to negotiating your new salary, knowledge is power. Here at Michael Page has been working with professionals across many sectors, getting people into jobs for more than 40 decades. We understand the landscape and our recruitment consultants operate from 28 office locations in the UK, giving us complete coverage.
Why not browse our jobs pages to find your next role?