Know What Your Competition Is Paying Before You Put an Offer on the Table

Recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals rejoice, Robert Half has released its 2019 Salary Guide! Why is this so important, you ask? With salary guides, you’ll be able to see what types of compensation your competition is offering candidates, and with that knowledge in hand, you’ll be better equipped to poach those workers to your company.


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According to Robert Half, when it comes to how satisfied U.S. workers are with their compensation, 49% of professionals surveyed feel they are paid fairly at their jobs. However, 46% think they are underpaid and the remaining 5% admitted to feeling overpaid. Chances are, you won’t be able to recruit the 5% who say they are overpaid, considering most people leave their current roles to go to companies that offer higher compensation.

More than 2,800 workers in 28 U.S. markets were surveyed for Robert Half’s latest study. The research was issued in conjunction with the release of the Robert Half 2019 Salary Guides, which provide starting salary ranges for more than 460 roles in the accounting and finance, technology, legal, creative, and administrative fields.

Workers were asked, “In your current job, do you think you are …?”

  • Paid fairly (49%)
  • Underpaid (46%)
  • Overpaid (5%)

Additional findings:

  • Cities with the most workers who feel underpaid: San Diego, California led the pack (62%); followed by Austin, Texas (54%); Houston, Texas (53%); Nashville, Tennessee (53%), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (52%).
  • Cities with the fewest professionals who report being underpaid: Those in Miami, Florida (33%); Dallas, Texas (37%); New York City, New York (37%); Los Angeles, California (39%); and San Francisco, California (39%) were least likely to say they felt shortchanged.
  • By age: More workers ages 55 and older think they are compensated fairly (52%) than those ages 18 to 34 (44%) and 35 to 54 (51%).
  • By gender: Women (49%) were more apt to feel underpaid compared to men (44%).
  • By education and income level: Respondents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, as well as those earning more than $100,000 per year, were most likely to say they’re being paid fairly (50% and 57%, respectively).

Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director for Robert Half, noted reasons why pay levels may not feel up to par. “Some firms have not kept up with shifts in market demand and continue to use old job classifications and salary bands. If your organization has not reviewed its compensation plan within the last six months, it could be outdated.”

Another factor fueling thoughts of being undercompensated is word of mouth. Workers who have spoken with recruiters about new opportunities, or with friends who have recently changed roles, often hear about better pay and perks offered elsewhere.

While money is important, McDonald urges companies not to rely exclusively on high compensation to motivate employees. “Professionals earning a healthy salary may still feel undervalued or underappreciated for their contributions. Pay alone does not guarantee employee satisfaction or happiness. Organizations need to offer solid benefits, perks and incentives, along with a positive corporate culture, to attract and retain top performers.”

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