What does "competitive salary" actually mean?

Lara Billington
Content Marketing Executive

"Competitive salary" - good thing or bad thing?  

You may have noticed the words "competitive salary" crop up in a lot of job descriptions and unless you know what it actually means, it can be off-putting to see that companies aren't revealing how much you'll earn.

Understandably, salary is an important factor when choosing a job and research shows that graduates value it above anything else. In a recent GradTouch survey with over 5,000 graduates, salary was considered the most important aspect of a job, beating other factors like career progression, location and company culture. 

So why do so many companies not reveal the salary of a job, and what does "competitive salary" even mean? 




What does "competitive salary" mean? 

In a nutshell, if a salary is competitive the company will pay equal to, or more than, the industry average for that role or similar roles, in that particular location. So, although you may think a company is hiding the salary because it's not very high, it's likely to be around the same as what you'd be earning in that position elsewhere.

If you're particularly interested in knowing the salary of a job before an interview, you could do some research online as to what similar roles pay. Or if you're invited to an interview, simply asking what salary you can expect is a completely valid question. 


If companies have nothing to hide, why don't they just tell you the salary? 

There's a number of reasons why a company may choose not to reveal the salary on a job advertisement. Often, there will be a salary range for the role - depending on the experience of the candidate they hire, a company may choose to pay slightly more or slightly less. Also, there may be room for negotiation with the candidate regarding how much they earn.

In some cases, particularly with large companies, salaries aren't revealed on the job advertisement simply because it's company policy. More often than not, if you progress to an interview the company will tell you then what you should expect to earn.

So although at face value the phrase "competitive salary" may look confusing or suspicious, there's a number of reasons companies use it. And they're unlikely to be because they don't want to reveal that you'll be paid peanuts. 


Here at GradTouch, we encourage companies to be as open and honest as possible - that includes saying, where possible, what you can expect to earn. Check out our latest opportunities here.