Scotland’s Recruitment Landscape: The Rise of Salary Levels

June 2023

Scotland’s recruitment landscape is currently witnessing a considerable change, as salary levels continue to rise. Over the past few months, MM Search has observed an increase in salary levels across various sectors, affecting both employers and candidates in the Scottish job market.

One of the primary reasons for the growing salaries is the realignment of pay across numerous specialisms, averaging between five and 10%. The most significant salary increases, reaching up to 15% since the beginning of the year, have been seen in specialist roles within corporate finance, IT, and technical disciplines.

Rory Cleat, Business Delivery Manager at MM Search, attributes the salary growth to several factors. “Many employers are playing ‘catch-up’ in situations where pay rates were not reviewed during the pandemic. Additionally, salary and counteroffers are being used as retention tactics, inflating rates. Furthermore, the ongoing cost of living crisis is contributing to higher rates, with employers responding by offering higher salaries or making one-off cost of living payments.”

While candidates may benefit from increased salary levels, there are additional considerations for employers. The current market conditions have implications for employers of all sizes. In order to address this trend, one of the key services we provide at MM Search as part of our executive search process is Salary Benchmarking. This valuable tool helps our clients make informed decisions about compensation packages, ensuring that they remain competitive in the market and attract the best talent.

Larger employers may encounter challenges when attempting to expand their teams. If offering inflated pay rates is the only way to attract candidates, they risk destabilising the entire team or increasing everyone’s remuneration. Conversely, smaller employers may find it difficult to compete for experienced candidates due to their inability to match higher salary levels.

The competitive employment market has led to candidates having higher salary expectations. Many candidates are aware that employers might be pressured to pay higher salaries to secure their desired candidate. However, this approach can result in candidates expecting to achieve higher salary levels.

During our candidate process, we advise candidates not to let the appeal of a higher salary overshadow other aspects of a job offer. A higher salary may not always equate to better development or progression opportunities, and candidates could find themselves professionally stagnating. Our objective for every candidate is to find the right role for them, considering both cultural fit and package to ensure their long-term professional growth and satisfaction.

If you’re looking for some expert advice on your next senior hire, we would be delighted to have the opportunity to assist you. Please feel free to contact Rory at for a confidential discussion.

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