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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