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Negotiating salary

Prepare to answer questions about your salary expectations at your next job interview

Timing is everything: do your research and wait until the proposed salary is introduced into the conversation by the prospective employer at the interview.

Discussing your salary expectations at an interview or when you have received a job offer can be awkward if you’re not prepared. Negotiations can be easier if you’re aware of the average salary range within your industry and for your level of experience.

When and how to discuss your salary in an interview

An interview is not the ideal time to ask about salary as your main focus should be on demonstrating your suitability for the job. In some cases the interviewer will bring up the subject and ask you directly what salary you are expecting. Here are some tips for navigating the situation:

  • Know your boundaries: you will need to decide in advance what is the lowest figure you would be willing to accept.
  • Use your prior research to suggest a salary range you would consider appropriate. You can also discuss with the interviewer how your salary expectations align with theirs. Students and graduates can access salary information through Graduate Careers Australia, while experienced professionals can contact the relevant professional associations for guidance. Additionally, major recruitment agencies often publish salary surveys on their websites.
  • Be realistic. Many candidates have great resumes and interesting experience. If you are asking for a higher than average salary then you will need to present convincing reasons why you are worth the extra investment.
  • Consider the whole package: money is not the only way you are compensated for your work. Some organisations offer incentives such as performance bonuses, extra leave, higher superannuation, training allowances, gym memberships and more. Think about what is most important to you.
  • Leave room for negotiation by indicating if your salary expectations are flexible.
  • If you receive more than one job offer, consider all aspects of the job rather than simply taking the one that pays the most. What are your opportunities for progression? How much training and support will you receive? How is each organisation viewed in your industry? Your starting salary does not necessarily dictate your future earning potential.