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Our stress-free guide to negotiating on salary

career advice, salary negotiations

​It’s one of the most difficult parts of the recruitment process for many prospective finance and accounting candidates: how to negotiate salary. If you aim too high are you overselling yourself? If you pitch too low will the interviewer question your skills and experience? Employers will usually offer a potential salary range as they expect applicants with different proficiency levels to apply to any given finance and accounting role. Generally, employers tend to offer higher salaries to applicants with better experience or more qualifications. Navigating this tricky question requires confidence in yourself, market knowledge and a little help from a trusted recruitment consultant. 

When should you negotiate on salary?

Negotiating on salary usually happens at some point during the recruitment process. While generally not during the first interview, there are no hard and fast rules about when is and when is not a good time to ask or initiate a conversation about salary, but it can make things uncomfortable if you begin your communications about a role with a hard line on your salary expectations. However, preparedness is key, here are some useful ways to think about answering the salary expectations question at different stages in the recruitment process:

Prior to the interview by email or phone (on request):

Sometimes an HR team member, hiring manager or recruitment consultant will ask you to provide your salary expectations prior to the interview either by email or on the phone. This is an opportunity for you to set the employer’s expectation of you. Giving a solid answer will create a level of expectation to meet when presenting yourself and your skills at interview. Don’t be afraid to sell your skills highly, as in all likelihood, receiving this question at such an early stage means you’re being closely considered for this role and the company wants to know if they can afford you. If they can, fantastic – now go wow them in the interview! And if they decide they can’t afford you they can either try and negotiate with you or they can terminate your candidacy. This may seem drastic but ultimately it saves both theirs and your time as there will be no need to interview.

During the interview:

If you are asked during an interview this usually indicates that they are impressed with your skills so far. There are two ways you can handle this, you can take this as an opportunity to demonstrate your confidence and commitment to the role by being clear and measured about your salary expectations, but what can be more beneficial to your candidacy is to deflect the question slightly and let your recruiter negotiate on your behalf. Try saying: 'My expectations are aligned with the salary range per the job description', this will give your recruiter the freedom to broker the conversation as they generally know the true comfort level of the employer.

After the interview stage, in final negotiations:

At this point, when it seems like the role is within your grasp, don’t be tempted to undersell yourself. As we have discussed before, this may undermine the validity of your experience or skillset. In the following section we will discuss how to work out what your salary expectations should be. 

How should you negotiate on salary?

Successfully negotiating on salary will require a little work on your part. Here are a few tips to help you pitch your expected salary:

Base it on market research:

The best way to pitch your salary expectation is to base it off the market rate. Looking at job boards or salary calculators and assessing the current rate at similar companies in similar positions will help you find the right price point. This is a firm basis for negotiation.

Sell your skills:

Using the market rate for similar roles, you can then factor in your experience and skills. If you have a professional qualification like ACCA, CIMA, ACA, or even CFA, take these into account when valuing yourself as not all applicants will have your unique skillset. 

Seize the opportunity:

If you can, try and delay the question to right at the end of the interview or even after the interview to focus and prioritise the opportunity the role offers. This will bolster their impression of your commitment to the role. Try and answer the salary expectations question with something like this:

“Based on my qualifications, experience and the research I have done, I understand that between xx-xx is the typical salary range for the responsibilities and duties expected in this role.

Edward Mann can assist you in negotiating on salary when we help you find a new role. We have extensive insight into the market and can advise you on where to pitch your salary expectations. Our vacancies are specially picked so you can find a role where you can fully utilise your skills and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future. Our consultants will help you at every step of the way, offering application support, and interview advice so you make the right impression and get the right salary.

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