Tuesday 20 December 2016

How long should you stay with one employer?

A few months, or perhaps years, after you begin an entry-level position in tax, you’re likely to ask yourself: ‘What’s the optimum amount of time I should I stay with this organisation?’

The simple answer to this question is: ‘Stay for as long as you need to?’

According to research from McCrindle in 2014, the average Australian employee's tenure is just over three years, and those in the 25-35-year age group remain in their roles for little more than two and a half years.

While the days of starting your career and retiring at the one company may be at an end, it doesn't mean you should always scratch the two-year itch.

Consider the following factors before jumping ship:

Thursday 15 December 2016

Negotiating a graduate salary

When you finish your degree and get close to securing your first position in the tax profession, you’ll soon have to negotiate your initial salary.

But do you know what you’re worth?

Getting your foot in the door and landing a graduate role is difficult enough without having to haggle over money as well.

Here are some tips to help you with your negotiations. You can use this guide to understand what to expect and how to ask for what you deserve.

Research before asking

Tax roles are varied, and the range of starting salaries is broad, depending on the industry and the size and type of the organisation. You’ll see considerable differences between offers from government agencies, large corporate organisations and small businesses.

If a prospective employer hasn’t indicated the salary up-front, you can undertake a comparison study of graduate salaries in similar organisations. That way, you can have a figure in mind when you start speaking with the hiring manager.

For this, you can use tools such as the Australian Government’s Job Outlook website, research sites like LiveSalary, and salary guides offered by recruitment firms and job listing websites.

Some role descriptions state a salary range. To successfully negotiate the top rate, you’ll first need to check that you meet all of the position’s essential criteria and most of the desired criteria. You should also support this with impressive academic results and/or comprehensive work experience.

The negotiation

In many graduate roles, you’ll find there’s little room to move. For example, government and corporate graduate hiring rounds tend to have standard starting salaries. So, before you even consider haggling, find out first if the salary is negotiable.

However, what if you encounter the following situations?

  • You’re asked, up-front, what salary you expect: Have a figure, or a range, ready. Let the hiring manager know you’ve done your research. Also, bear in mind the gender pay gap – female graduates are less likely to be proactive in salary negotiations, which means they often get only what the organisation offers.
  • The employer indicates a salary that’s lower your expectations: Be frank and tell the hiring manager what you expect, 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 convinced, be prepared to walk away. The tax profession has opportunities, so it may be worth waiting for something more suitable.
  • You’re offered a position before you have discussed money: In this case, you have leverage to name a price, because you know the employer wants 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.

Sometimes the organisation may not have the money to pay the salary you ask. Or they may simply want to see how you perform before they pay you a higher salary. In this case, consider a package of some type. Think about what you might want in the way of opportunities – and keep negotiations open by securing the promise of a salary review down the line.

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Thursday 8 December 2016

Presentation skills to boost your career

The ability to present an idea or argument effectively to a target audience is essential for anyone who wants to build a successful career in tax.

What presentation skills should you develop?


Your first consideration in developing a presentation is its content, which comprises three elements:

  • Originality: The content of your presentation should be new or different enough to engage your audience. If your topic is unavoidably mundane, you can spruce it up with images, humour or even props that present it in a new way.
  • Structure: Your time to present is limited, so a clear structure can be an effective way of conveying complex ideas. Create a framework with patterns of logic and a sensible order (e.g. chronology or premise-argument-consequence-implication).
  • Authority: You should have expertise in your topic and know, by heart, the way you plan to present it. Once you’ve developed the structure and words, practise your presentation. This will also help your confidence when you’re in front of your audience.


The best presenters project confidence, and confidence comes from being comfortable.

Consider these three elements of confidence:

  • Body language: Stand or sit up straight and face your audience. Breathe deeply and slowly. Release the tension in your body and try to spend the time looking at the audience more than at your notes. It’s okay to pace or move around if you need to, but such movement should be measured.
  • Voice: If there’s no microphone, project your voice loudly and clearly – clarity is crucial, with or without an amplifier. Many people rush their words when nervous, so be mindful of the flow and pace of your presentation. Include pauses, giving time for your words to sink in.
  • Rapport: Try to build a warm rapport with your audience. Find out something about them beforehand that you can mention at the beginning. Many presenters also break the ice with a joke or an anecdote, or use techniques such as rhetorical questions.

Get to know how you behave in front of an audience, accentuate the good traits and reduce undesirable habits. If you get nervous when people stare at you, it may help to use visual aids that they can look at instead. If you speak too fast, invest in a metronome to help you practise speaking at a slower pace. And if your hands tremble, hold a prop like a pen to still them.

The way you present yourself, your work and your ideas will inevitably influence how your abilities are viewed in the workplace. Give your career the best chance by honing your presentation skills at the beginning.

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If you're a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career.

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