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Salary Negotiations: A Fair Offer?

 10th Aug 2023

Should an employer's default position be to offer you more than your current package?

If we assume that the applicant is well suited to the role, has most of the required skills and competence and has successfully operated in a similar role at equivalent seniority in the past - that should warrant an uplift, should it not?

Or should it?

I expect most job applicants would answer this first question with a resounding “yes” and potentially some employers with a more balanced “not necessarily…..”

Clearly, there is no definitive answer, it’s subjective with many variables and caveats, particularly once the conversation is distilled down to individual markets, locations and skills.

Firstly, I’m acutely aware of how important earnings are in the midst of the economic climate and cost of living crisis we’re currently in. Moreover, salary and package are one of the most common reasons people will enter the job market – employers know this and believe they can secure good applicants by making competitive offers, therefore there is both logic and a competitive advantage in making an offer which improves upon current package.

Accountancy & Finance recruitment has the same supply and demand dynamics of other markets, both recruitment and non-recruitment. Market influences often determine the price point but also trends, for instance, in-demand or niche skills invariably having a premium attached to them.  

In the immediate aftermath of COVID, salary increments when moving roles accelerated quickly with 2021 and 2022 in particular seeing higher than usual (pre-COVID) increments, in some instances significantly higher. However, this is rebalancing somewhat in 2023.

It’s still common, reasonable and expected to achieve an increment from current package but the size of said increment seems to be narrowing.

The wage growth of recent years appears to have made some employers more selective when hiring in 2023, perhaps unfairly.

Not to suggest that the candidates that were hired in 2021 and 2022 had an easy ride to obtaining a new job and salary gain, however because of the salaries offered in these recent preceding years, it has made employers focus on budget to hire with more scrutiny and importantly, what value are they getting for a particular salary.

Regrettably, it seems harder for candidates in 2023 to justify the same gains as those that have gone before them.

If a role is advertised at £50k-£60k, the applicant is currently earning £51k and the employer offers £52k, is that competitive?

Depends on your point of view.

Is it a good offer that’s hard to turn down? No, it’s not.

Does it suggest to the applicant that the employer really wants them and values them higher than their current employer? No, it doesn’t.

Is it ‘fair’ Arguably, yes.

If we work on the premise that there are average and expected rates of pay for certain skills and the amount/years of experience and ability someone might bring to a role, then it’s logical to expect employers to want to pay around the same for similar roles. In this scenario, it can be argued the £52k offer is ‘fair’.

How do you as a jobseeker give yourself the best chance of making a salary gain?

Be prepared to be challenged by hiring managers regards how your skills, strengths and experiences can add value to their functions, thus warranting a good uplift.

Before speaking with hiring managers, ensure you know how you want to describe your skills, background and experience. More specifically, how can you bring your skills to bear in the advertised role?

How in-demand are your skills as it relates to the employer and role?

Research the sector in which the company operates – demonstrate an awareness of the market influences, threats and opportunities of said company in said sector. By conveying your awareness of the bigger picture, by association, you’re highlighting to the hiring managers that you have business and commercial acumen over and above your ability to bring the skills required at a practical level to do the job.

Don’t simply expect a 15-20% increment from your current package without performing well in an interview process and ensuring the hiring manager is in no doubt about your worth to that particular employer/role.

No salary uplift is a given and it’s becoming harder to justify in 2023 as supply, demand, cost and economic factors are at play.

There are still good and competitive offers to be had out in the market but employers are being more critical in their evaluation so it’s important applicants are doing what they can to push themselves to the front of the queue and positively stand out in an interview.

If you would like any tips or advice about how to help yourself be the best version of yourself in an interview and give yourself a chance of achieving that uplift, please feel free to contact a member of the W&A team.

Written by Ross McQuarrie.


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