Can Focusing on IT Salary Market Rates Hurt Your Tech Job Search?
by Duane Dowell
January 8, 2019
With such low unemployment rates and such a high demand for technology skills, many IT pros find today’s job economy to be one of the best in history. To top it off, news outlets often cite rising compensation in the field, leading many tech pros to expect big raises each year or jumps in salary with every new job. The result? Job seekers are increasingly exploring market rate salaries in the hopes of determining whether a prospective job is worthwhile. While this is a smart practice, when it’s the main criteria used in your job search, it can end up hurting your career.
Discovering Market Rates
For the full picture, consider where market rates can be found. Websites like Dice, PayScale, salary.com, Indeed, and Glassdoor are go-to sources. Further, many IT pros network with peers, attend conferences, visit message boards, sit in with meetup groups, or chat with coworkers and mentors to better discover what people actually earn in the field. However, all of this information must be taken with a grain of salt because IT salary market rates are guides, not hard rules.
According to Dice’s 2018 Tech Salary Report, full-time IT professionals earn an average of $91,398 while IT consultants earn $114,725. More specifically, PayScale shows the median salary for a Database Administrator in the Ft. Lauderdale area is $93,301, while salary.com shows no less than 10 types of Database Administrator titles in the same location with salaries ranging from under $60,000 to over $120,000. This is why basing your job search and career decisions on a single “market rate” can be dangerous. After all, every one of these numbers could be realistic, it just depends on a number of factors.
Maintaining Realistic Salary Expectations
Location, the need for talent, how long a position has been open, project deadlines, the number of qualified candidates, the experience level of talent, budgets, and more, all affect salary offers. Think of it like the price of gold. You can look up the price per ounce to gauge what you might pay for a necklace, but walk into a jewelry store and that price tag could be much different than expected due to that store’s inventory, ongoing promotions, or competition with the place next door. Salary expectations for tech pros get skewed in similar ways.
For example, if you were a contract worker and are now looking at permanent full-time roles, salary will likely be lower since consultants typically make more for shorter, specialized projects. Similarly, interviewing with an established company could mean rigid predetermined salary parameters. On the other hand, if you’ve honed a niche in-demand skill or are interviewing with a smaller, aggressively growing organization, you might see a higher salary offer. Using your current or previous salary as a reference point can be helpful, but allowing it to shape expectations without regard to all the above factors is what creates unrealistic salary expectations during a job search.
Considering More Than Money
With such a focus on the salary, many job seekers lose sight of other attractive aspects of a job opportunity. Chiefly, what kind of career progression will a potential role provide you? Will it be challenging enough to stay interesting while building new skills into your repertoire? Even if it’s a lateral move financially, would it be worth it if it sets you up for your dream job two years from now?
Then, there are benefits to consider. Outside of important but obvious ones like health, dental, and vision insurance, what perks does the opportunity provide? Is there an onsite cafeteria with discounted prices? Does the company give out scholarships to the children of employees? Many IT companies are getting creative with their perks in order to differentiate themselves, so exciting and unique benefits are increasingly part of packages.
Finally, the company culture may be the single biggest factor that determines job satisfaction. Imagine friendly coworkers who are enjoyable to be around, fun events outside of work, team-building activities, corporate volunteering opportunities, and an aesthetically pleasing environment with soothing lighting and comfortable break spots. Opting for a huge salary in lieu of these X-factors is a tradeoff that often has tech pros starting the job search again before their first anniversary.
Accepting the Right Tech Job Offer
Researching IT salary market rates is a best practice, but it will hurt your job search if it’s the main barometer for gauging offers. Money is one of many factors that go into a job offer, and as long as the role’s compensation is in the right ballpark, let the other aspects help you make the decision that’s truly best for you. Doing so will make sure you’re happy in a career that takes you places while paying you right.
Need help finding a rewarding IT opportunity that meets all your criteria? Contact IntellaPro today.