We’ve had a few queries recently from our new grads about how to negotiate salaries. The universal first rule of thumb is that the person who states a number first, loses. If you are asked to quote a salary during the interview, it is best to say something along the lines of…”you’d expect to be paid what other graduates with similar backgrounds and qualifications are being paid” and/or that you would be happy to discuss salary further along in the recruitment process. You might like to add that salary is not your most important criteria, that personal and professional development, culture fit and management/leadership style are all key to your decision making.
There are a number of ways in which you can research salary ranges: contacting recruitment agencies; checking salary comparison websites; calling the company’s human resource department to ask if there is a salary range for the position – many of the larger organisations will have this; relevant professional associations can often help such as the NZ Institute for Chartered Accountants, the Human Resources Institute of NZ and TeachNZ. University Career Services can also give you an idea of graduate recruitment starting salaries. Another good resource is the national Career Services website: www.careers.co.nz – click on ‘get job info’.
Before negotiating a salary you need to think about what is most important to you. Is it money? Training opportunities? Travel? Life/Work Balance? Flexi-time? Sometimes salaries start a bit lower, however performance and salary reviews may be more frequent. It is not uncommon for some students to start at higher salaries than their peers, only to find that in 2-3 years time their peers are making significantly more. A really important thing to remember is that the best time for negotiating a salary is after you’ve been offered a job and before you’ve accepted it.
For some really good quick tips, see the Vic Careers’ ‘Evaluating Your Job Offer’ Tip Sheet