How do I know if a salary offer for a new job is competitive?

Receiving a job offer can be exciting news but how do you know that the salary offered is competitive? We outline the key factors you need to consider.

If you’re considering a job offer from a new employer or a promotion within your existing company, one of your main queries is likely to be “How do I know if the salary offer is competitive?” After all, being properly remunerated for the excellent job you’ll do is only fair.

Most of us build up a range of skills the longer we are in each job we do. And when we change positions (and even careers sometimes), we build up an even wider set of transferable skills – all of which make us a valuable asset. But that leads us to question exactly how valuable we really are in terms of salary and renumeration.

 At Anne Corder Recruitment, we’re proud of our ethical practices and we want you to find an employer who respects and values your skillset. To help do that, below we outline the key factors and tips to keep in mind when considering whether your salary offer is competitive.

But the first thing to be clear about is what the term competitive salary actually means.

If the pay offered for a role is equal to or above the rate for similar positions in the same industry, then it is competitive.

However, if it is below the usual salary for the role, then it isn’t competitive, but you may want to consider the three below factors before asking the employer or the recruitment agency why this is.

Factors that can affect the salary offered

  1. Industry or Sector

If the role is in a certain field such as the Civil Service, your salary offer may be dictated by national or regional pay scales. Career paths such as teaching, policing, and medicine, for example, have a largely incremental salary range, and, in general, the only way to increase your pay is to take on extra responsibilities.

For other industries and sectors, the employer may have a transparent salary policy which you can compare with similar roles in your industry.

If they don’t, ask people within your network with similar roles if they are comfortable sharing their salary details with you.

A less invasive way of doing this is by comparing industry salaries through an online job search for similar roles in the same industry.

  1. Geographical Factors

The location of the company may affect a salary offer and there are numerous economic factors which may affect how it compares locally or regionally, including those below:

  • The cost of living in the area
  • The strength of the industry in that location
  • The number of candidates from that area that are suitable for the role
  • How much other companies from that area are paying their staff

Understanding these factors will help you know how much room there might be for negotiation on your salary.

  1. Additional Benefits

If the salary offered is below what you were expecting, take a minute to consider whether this is because of added value benefits that the company may provide. These may offset the lower salary, so it is always worth working out if they compensate for the wage you’ll be paid. The additional benefits offered could include:

  • Fewer working hours than other companies
  • Longer paid holiday leave
  • Company car or transport allowance
  • Useful company perks such as free tickets or discounts
  • Paid health insurance or well-being packages
  • Free training to increase your skills and personal market value
  • Flexible working hours
  • Free meals and refreshments whilst at work
  • Bonuses or commissions you may earn
  • Increased pension contributions
  • Profit share if the company does well

It is also worth considering other intangible benefits that working for the company may provide.

For example, working for a very high profile business (on an ‘uncompetitive’ salary) could be frustrating in the short term, but may reap significant financial benefits to you in the future when you look for another job.

Top Tips

Use an Online Salary Checker

There are many free salary checking tools available on the internet. Whilst these won’t offer the same level of insight as an experienced recruitment professional, they can be useful as a starting point to learn more about competitive rates of pay.

Make sure you choose online salary checkers that will offer an objective view rather than one linked to a specific company.  Also, check that they are based in the appropriate country for a more accurate prediction.

And remember to double-check any result from an online salary checker against a professional’s estimate too.

Work Out Your Personal ‘Market Value’

Your market value is a key indicator of the kind of salary you should expect from an employer.

To calculate this, list all the qualifications, training, or certifications you may have that add value to a company and consider how they may affect the salary.

Next, consider your industry experience. Longevity can add value in itself but it’s even better if you can increase your worth to a company by reflecting on successes you’ve achieved in previous roles.

Then reflect on how your previous job titles and areas of responsibility will add value to a new company.

By bearing all this information in mind, you should be able to calculate your market value – the salary that someone with your qualifications, skills, and experience should be expected to be paid.

But it’s also important to be realistic about whether the new job is a step up for you, and despite the lower salary offer, may lead to you learning new skills and gaining new experiences that could mean a much more competitive salary in the future.

If the answer is yes, then as highlighted above, that may compensate for the lower salary offered.

Be Willing to Negotiate

Although the salary offered to you may have come as a disappointment, many companies are willing to negotiate.

This is your opportunity to emphasize your market value, as well as learn about any additional benefits that the company may offer.

Remember that they have offered you the job already so are keen for you to join them, but there may be valid and strong reasons why they have offered you less than the typical market rate.

And also be aware that the salary you take home each month doesn’t necessarily relate to how much you enjoy the job or working for the company, both of which are important factors too.

Many people choose to work at a company – or even in particular industry sectors – despite the ‘uncompetitive’ or low pay, because they enjoy it or gain a sense of achievement or satisfaction from doing so. So it’s important to weigh up what’s important to you before rejecting a salary offer based simply on its financial value.

Ask A Recruitment Professional

If in doubt about the salary being offered to you, ask an expert.

Professional recruitment companies will have industry knowledge and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities that match salary expectations. And we know what local, economic, and industry factors can influence pay.


Having knowledge of the factors that influence a salary offer is a good foundation to work out if the offer made to you is really competitive. But it’s vital to also know your value. That way, you’ll know if the offer is fair based on your specific skills and experience.


Alex Smith

Recruitment Specialist

I’ve worked in recruitment for the same agency for over 12 years, covering finance, office support, construction, and engineering. Temp and perm. Previously, my line of work was within banking and estate agency.
Favourite food: “Curry (Hot)”
Favourite film: “Heat”

Outside of work

“Gym 5 days a week. Home life consists mostly of entertaining a 3 year old! (for clarification – my son)”

Alex on ACR

“Very refreshing to work for a recruitment agency that genuinely care for their candidates and clients”

T: 01733 235298

Sarah-Jane Bond

Recruitment Specialist

I have spent the majority of my career working in Operational and Project Management roles. I first worked with ACR about 25 years ago as a candidate. ACR secured me a role at RNIB, where I stayed for 15 years, finishing as Head of Operations. Recruitment has always been a big part of the roles I have undertaken and is something that I really enjoy. When you match a fantastic candidate with the right client there is no better feeling!
Favourite food: “Has to be any dish from the Mediterranean”
Favourite film: “There are many, love a chick flick, especially ‘The Holiday at Christmas”

Outside of work

“I love socialising with friends, can always squeeze a bit of retail therapy in around volunteering at Deeping Rangers FC, running their hospitality on match days.”

Sarah-Jane on ACR

“I couldn’t have been more delighted when Nel asked me to join the company and have felt at home since day one. They really do care about providing the best service for their clients and candidates, building genuine relationships with both. The team culture is second to none, everyone supporting and looking out for each other. It is a pleasure to come to work every day.”

T: 01733 235298

Emily Hill

Recruitment Specialist

Emily was a Primary School Teacher for 10 years, before moving into the EdTech space, as a Relationship Specialist for MATs. She joined ACR in July 2023 and particularly thrives when recruiting for Account Management, Customer Service and Sales roles.
Favourite food:
“Spag bol or pizza”
Favourite film:
“The Notebook – or any romantic chick flick really!”

Outside of work

“I have a 1-year-old, so love fun family weekends with my husband and son more than anything. Time socialising with friends and family is where I’m happiest.”

Emily on ACR
“The unique culture, values, and style at ACR is polar opposite to other recruitment agencies and what I believed recruitment was. Having previously been a Relationship Specialist, I feel I’m doing the same thing! No hard sell, we truly care about our candidates and clients, and the team culture is 2nd to none!”
T: 01733 235298

Sign-up to an Event

Please fill out the form below to sign-up to an event

CV Quicksend

Please fill out the form below to submit your CV