Getting your foot in the door by securing a graduate role can be difficult enough without having to negotiate your salary as well. Use this guide to help you understand what you should expect and how to ask for what you think you deserve.
Before you ask, research
Because tax roles are so versatile, the range of starting salaries are broad depending on industry and the size and type of organisation, which means you’ll see differences in government, corporate and small business offers.
If the employer has not stated the salary upfront, conduct a comparison study of graduate salaries in similar organisations so you have a figure in mind. You can use tools such as the government’s Job Outlook, salary guides provided through recruitment firms and job listing sites, and research sites like Live Salary.
Some role descriptions state a salary range. To successfully negotiate the top rate, you will need to meet all the essential criteria and most of the desired criteria, supporting this with good marks in uni and/or comprehensive work experience.
In many graduate roles there is no room to move. Government and corporate graduate hiring rounds tend to have standard starting salaries, so find out if the salary is negotiable first. But what if:
- You’re asked upfront what you’re expecting: Have a figure ready. Let them know you’ve done your research. Keep in mind the gender pay gap – female graduates are less likely to be proactive in salary negotiations, which means they get what the organisation offers.
- The employer names a salary below your expectations: Be frank and tell them what you were expecting based on your research. If you’re keen, ask if there’s room to move on that figure in the near future. If you’re not completely sold, be prepared to walk away. The tax sector has plenty of opportunities, so be patient and you will find something more suitable.
- You’ve been offered the position without discussing money: You have some leverage to name a price because you know they want you. Start as high as you think they’ll go, but be prepared to make concessions for non-financial perks, such as support for postgraduate study.
Be aware that sometimes the organisation may not have the money, or may simply want to see how you perform before they pay you a higher salary. Consider a package of some description – think about what you might want in the way of opportunities – and keep negotiations open by securing a salary review down the line.
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