Q: I am about to apply for a youth worker role, but the salary seems low at £14,000 per annum. How can I find out whether this is below the market rate?
A: It is difficult to know whether £14,000 is a reasonable salary without knowing more detail about the role, the hours and where it is based. Research comparable salaries online and in relevant jobs pages. You will then be able to make a more informed decision.
The urge to have a positive impact on the lives of others is a key driving force in the social care sector, so I think it is safe to assume you are not applying for this job for the money.
There are other factors that will (and should) come into play when you are deciding whether the role ticks all your boxes. Are you considering it because of the experience it offers, the organisation, hours, location or money? In most cases, a new job needs to offer a mix of these factors, so working out which are key to you may help you to decide whether to apply.
It is also important to realise that applying is not the same thing as accepting. Sounds obvious, but going through the application and interview process is an excellent way to gain more information about the role and an insight into the organisation. Any organisation worth its salt will use the interview as an opportunity to “sell you” on the role. Most people find interviews stressful, and we are often loath to put ourselves in stressful situations unless we have to, but practice makes perfect – so practise.
It is important you feel valued, and one obvious way an employer can express their satisfaction and appreciation is financially.
It can be very demotivating to feel you are being taken advantage of and an employer needs to realise the risks of paying staff less than they should be paid. When a staff member leaves, an organisation is required to: pay the high costs of recruitment expend resources to induct a new member of staff and manage the instability (internally and externally) of the change. Essentially, it is in their best interests to keep you if you are doing a good job.
At the same time, the employee has responsibilities. If you want something to change, then you need to convey this to your employer. This can be a difficult thing to do, so it is easier to slip into a “the grass is always greener” mode, and look further afield.
Moving organisations and changing your job can take a toll on you personally, so it can be in your best interest to examine all your options carefully rather than go for the easiest. You may be surprised and pleased at the results – people can be very accommodating when they feel they might lose you.
Change is essential, for organisations and individuals, and ideally changes will happen for the right reasons, not because of the complacency of either party.
Mary Jackson is recruitment manager for Hackney Council’s children and young people’s directorate
A: £14,000 sounds at the lower end of the spectrum for a qualified youth worker. A quick online search of a couple of the training websites shows a newly qualified youth worker can earn as little as £13,000 but as much as £18,000. Of course, so much of this depends on where you’d be practising. If it’s in the south, I’d definitely be pushing for more than £14,000.