Der Standard – Karriere – 18.05.2021

Salary talks – no taboos! –  executive HR professional & salary coach Martina Ernst takes us behind the scenes

Six important factors determine your market value!

I have just heard a long and cumbersome explanation from a job seeker, who told me why it was not possible to find out his market value in his specific case. After all, he had just worked at the reception of a hotel chain while completing his business studies and had previously completed his apprenticeship as a chef. Admittedly, not exactly an extremely stringent CV – but does that rule out a clear market value determination?

Does the experience from my previous jobs actually pay off, how much do I earn more because of this extra knowledge? And what if I have gained experience in very different industries?

       I am only paid for the market value of the position I currently hold or apply for.

How to find the market value of this position? Or do I have to live with a bad feeling believing that my colleagues negotiate better and earn more, which – according to a recent survey conducted by StepStone in Austria – every second person believes.

Salary used to be a real taboo subject – now there are plenty of opportunities to approach the topic, for example through,,, Statistics Austria.

You are not spared from thorough research – and it is good to know a few basic facts,

because 6 factors largely determine the market value of a job:

  • Country and region: the higher the cost of living, the higher salaries usually are. In Zurich, the starting salary for a business bachelor ‘FH’ is CHF 76,000, in Vienna s*he receives EUR 42,000 (all-in)

The business assistant will earn more in Vienna for a similar job in a comparable company than his/her counterpart in Burgenland – a question of the cost of living. And the executive business assistant of a global pharmaceutical company is certainly much better off than the business assistant of a small IT supplier.

  • Industry: In a management consultancy in Austria, one starts with EUR 60,000 -65,000 – but beware: your working hours are also much higher
  • Company size: large corporations usually pay higher salaries – exception: specialized boutique firms.
  • Areas: Controlling and risk are rated higher than for example HR or audit
  • Concrete task: In controlling you will normally earn more than in accounting, in IT software better than in IT hardware, to name just a few examples
  • Job level: of course, a junior earns less than a senior in the same job area – but beware: you don’t always earn more as a manager than an expert: team leaders with, for example, 3-5 employees can earn less than the top expert in the same field

What else can I negotiate?

  • The market value of a position is not a precise figure, but a salary band that leaves a margin of negotiation of 5-15%. The bargaining margin for newcomers is very small, but you can carefully check the level/category of the collective agreement you are classified at – perhaps the previous experience from the student job will help to the next higher level/category after the first 6 months on the job.

 Martina Ernst has founded the company after her job as Head of Human Resources at Erste Bank, and currently serves as Career Partner of the WU Executive Academy and President of WU EA Female Leaders Network with 1500 alumnae.

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