Online Salary Guides - Are They Reliable?



We’ve all done it, you’re interviewing for a job or going in to ask for a raise and thought “what are other people making in the same type of role?” So what do you do…google it of course!

Websites like Glassdoor or Payscale can be a candidates best friend and an HR professionals worst nightmare. On the flip side these sites do provide free compensation data which in all honesty can come in handy for small to medium sized businesses that are looking to get some insight into market value without handing over some serious cash for a full analysis.

So does this widely accessible data hold any value? Whether a candidate, HR leader or people manager, how much weight should we be putting into these numbers? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. This is self-reported data. Website users are joining with an account to look at data and often first have to include their own salary info. You would need to consider that some users are uncomfortable with this and either fudge the numbers or make them up all together to get what they want out of the site.

  2. This data is typically only looking at base salary, be sure to consider other variables in compensation packages like bonus, equity, shares, benefits, vacation entitlement and education allowances…to name a few!

  3. While you may be looking at data with a similar position title consider the scope of the position. Titles are not always reflective of the level of role or complexity of responsibilities

  4. What labour market is the data collected from? Keep in mind that an HR Manager in Regina may not make the same as an HR Manager in Toronto. When surveying data it is important to be considerate of the location.

With this in mind look for multiple data sources to verify your findings and happy analyzing!

Alisha Adams, Co-Founder of Talent Lab