Frequent question: How much are you worth?

It is difficult to know its “value” in the labour market. Generally, we believe that we are worth what the employer wants to pay us. But a good observation of the labour market allows you to find convincing benchmarks when it comes time to negotiate your salary.

During a job interview, the question of remuneration is crucial. It is difficult to negotiate a salary properly if we are not aware of our value on the labour market. Your last salary is the first reference point you have. It is difficult to accept working for less than your last job. But was the pay fair?

Unionized companies have a collective agreement in which their remuneration policy is described. This is negotiated for all employees. If your new company does not have an agreement, Human Resources should be able to explain the compensation policy in relation to the market.

Conducting the investigation

If your company does not have an agreement or a human resources department, the Institut de la statistique du Québec publishes a tool every year to determine the salary range you should be on: the Québec Total Compensation Survey. The latest edition gives the range of annual income according to the type of full-time job held in 2015.

The gaps can sometimes be as much as double, but the survey already gives an idea of the maximum that it would be wrong to want to exceed, and the minimum below which it would be indecent to work.

To know how you fit into this scale and refine your requirements, you will need to rely on the confidences of your personal network. How much do you earn in similar positions?

If you are already in the job and want to negotiate your salary upwards, it is instructive to interview the competition to see what they would be prepared to offer you. However, keep a low profile, as your boss may not like this approach.

Listen to the context

It’s a crisis! The excuse is easy, but revealing: when the market goes bad, money doesn’t flow as easily and hardly reaches the end of the chain, namely the pockets of the employees. A struggling sector hires less and at lower cost, a direct consequence of the law of supply and demand.

If you’re looking for work in a shrinking industry, it’s a good idea to move forward cautiously and revise your goals accordingly. But don’t sell yourself at a discount! It is possible to negotiate a progressive revaluation of your salary after the market recovers in order to find a decent level.

Finally, keep in mind that the size of the company affects the level of compensation. Traditionally, smaller companies pay less. On the other hand, there is more room for advancement because there are fewer levels in the hierarchy. This means that you can expect a position of greater responsibility in the medium term, and therefore a higher salary progression. Because it’s just as important to know where you can start from as it is to know how far you can go!

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