What’s the going rate for the personnel recordkeeper, benefits wiz, self-trained Excel guru, emotional-support person, leadership liaison, and office morale hype person, otherwise known as an HR generalist? And whatever that number is, is it enough?
We aren’t the only ones asking. Alison Green, a work advice columnist who has run the popular blog Ask A Manager for the past 15 years, told HR Brew she’s noticed a slight uptick in reader questions about pay in the past year.
Green thinks workers since they have more power and options than before and, as a result, are being more “forthright about their willingness to chase the money.”
“They’re being more up-front that they will leave for more money or that they need more money to stay in a way that people used to feel more uncomfortable with,” Green said.
Which numbers? To chase the money, it’s helpful for HR professionals to know what the going rate for their job title is, roughly speaking—a question that Green said can be difficult to answer.
Estimates can vary. As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated HR managers made an annual mean wage of $136,590; Salary.com estimated median compensation at $110,353, and Payscale shared unpublished data with HR Brew showing median salaries for the same role at $135,000 as of Q1 2022.
Certifiable. Payscale analyzed HR salaries between May 2021 and May 2022 using company-sourced data from over 1,300 companies and found that some employers are paying extra for guac advanced certifications. For example, among HR professionals, those who were certified employee benefits specialists (CEBS) or certified internet recruiters (CIR) were paid an average of 20% and 16% more, respectively, than employees who didn’t have the certification, according to Payscale.
Sweet skills. Similarly, Payscale found that HR professionals in the US who had skills in 401(k) plan administration, program development, or negotiation made at least 17% more than their colleagues without similar experience.
Without taking into account these factors, Green said employees looking for salary transparency could be inadvertently comparing apples to differently compensated oranges.
“It’s super complicated. Salary websites don’t end up being that helpful to people because there’s so much nuance in a job—what level of seniority [you are], what level of skill, and the size of your company can play a role,” Green said. “So I remember in the past hiring and having a candidate say, like, ‘Well, I looked at salary.com and my sense is the range is x,’ and it was a very out-of-touch range.”
In an attempt to gather more precise pay information, in 2014, Green began periodically collecting salary data volunteered by readers. On Green’s spreadsheet, thousands of readers have submitted their compensation as well as the factors that may influence pay. And on r/humanresources on Reddit, hundreds of HR professionals have been dishing about how much they make in recent days.
To be sure, some positions may offer more leverage than others when it comes to salary negotiations. According to Payscale’s head of people, Lexi Clarke, the company analyzed the job market in its Hottest Jobs of 2021 report and found recruiters, recruiting coordinators, and compensation analysts are in high demand. Clarke said in an email that due to this demand, some employers are now being forced to “take a good look at what they offer in terms of compensation and benefits as well as workplace flexibility and the overall employee experience.”