Determining Market Worth

Beth Cliff

Beth Cliff

By Beth Cliff,  Executive Recruiter, High Tech Engineering Talent Manager

Knowing what you are worth in the marketplace, or determining how to compensate a prospective employee can be a daunting proposition. Candidates want to obtain the optimum salary, while employers want to fairly compensate their new hires within their allotted budgets. The magic number that will leave both sides feeling good about their decision is in large part determined by the ever changing marketplace.

Over the past couple of years, I have seen some interesting trends in the marketplace. It’s no secret that finding your dream job, and corresponding compensation, the past few years hasn’t been easy. Many talented professionals found themselves unexpectedly looking for new roles. The result of more candidates vying for fewer jobs was a large fluctuation in salary requirements from candidates. Many senior-level, experienced candidates were applying for lower-level roles, and adjusting their salary requirements downward in order to get back to work as quickly as possible. This tended to have a trickle-down effect with mid-level candidates seeking more junior roles, and so on.  In general, hiring managers would gladly hire the more experienced candidate, especially given their tighter budgets, and limited head counts.

As the market improves, you are left with some considerations moving forward. Would taking a lower salary than you earned previously have a negative connotation for future opportunities? Perhaps, however, as an employer, you can think of it in these terms. Say you buy a new product at an introductory sale price, and are thrilled with it. When it comes time to buy the same product again a few weeks later, it is no longer on sale and the price has gone up accordingly. Do you swear off the product hoping it will go back on sale, or do you purchase it knowing it is the best product on the market?

When working with a recruiter, keep in mind that we are all working towards the same goal – matching the best qualified candidate with his or her ideal job with a company that recognizes their potential and views them as a valuable addition. As a means to this end, it is critical that the recruiter, candidate, and hiring manager are all on the same page when it comes to compensation. Money may not be everything, but it certainly plays a key part in determining if a candidate and particular role are a good fit.

I have found that more and more hiring managers require candidates to disclose their salary history for at least the previous five years. Disclosing this information is not the only determining factor when it comes time for an offer, but it will play an important part in deciding which roles are within a candidate’s targeted range. Know too that disclosing this information won’t keep you from garnering higher offers. Just last month, I had two candidates receive offers from two different companies that were 20% higher than their current salaries. In both cases, the hiring managers were aware of their current salaries.

Sites that give salary averages for particular roles and industries can be used as a tool to help you determine your market value. Professional associations and your own network of industry contacts and colleagues are also a good source for current salary trends.  As a recruiter working with both candidates and hiring mangers on a daily basis, I see the trends first hand and am always willing to share my insights to assist both candidates and managers make the best hiring decisions.

Candidates, keep in mind that every person is unique, and that base salary isn’t the only factor in the mix. Location, bonus potential, benefits, the people and environment at the company, and of course, the work you’ll be doing are equally important. In the end, the person who knows best what you are worth in any given market is you.  

Employers, keep in mind the costs of recruitment and training. Take advantage of this market, but don’t take advantage to the point of losing your new human resource investment as soon as another opportunity comes along.

About the author:

Beth Cliff joined Redfish in 2006, and currently heads up the High Tech Engineering recruiting on the East coast. She began her recruiting career in 1995, and continues to find her job challenging and rewarding. Originally from Ohio, Beth graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in Psychology. After living in NJ for a number of years, she now resides in Rhode Island with her daughter and Jack Russell terrier. Her time away from the office is spent cooking, baking, gardening, and advocating for animals.

Learn more about Beth, see her recommendations and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Redfish Technology, Inc.

Redfish Technology, Inc. specializes in locating talent in the Green Energy and High Tech sectors. Recruiting since 1996, the company offers nationwide coverage and boasts offices in Silicon Valley, the East Coast, and the Intermountain West. For more information on our services, call us at 408-719-0200 or visit Redfish on the internet.

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