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How to Handle Salary Negotiations

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Navigating salary negotiations with accounting candidates can be a challenging and delicate process. As employers, it's important to strike a balance between offering competitive compensation and adhering to your firm's budget constraints.  

In a recent survey we conducted 64% of firms said at least half the candidates they tried to hire recently looked to renegotiate the package offered. Only 13% of firms said no candidates had tried. So be ready. 

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 essential tips to keep in mind during the negotiation process to help you successfully manage these discussions: 


1)   Do Your Research: Understand the market rates for similar accounting roles and experience levels in your area to provide competitive offers. 
2)   Be Transparent: Clearly communicate the salary range, benefits, and perks associated with the position from the beginning, reducing surprises during negotiations. 
3)   Evaluate Experience: Consider the candidate's relevant experience, qualifications, and skills when determining their potential salary. Depending on what testing you’ve completed you might be taking on someone who is at a lower level technically than you hoped – a good reason for a lower starting salary but maybe with a shorter review period. Emphasise the training you’ll be offering – the candidate gets career enhancement instead of cash 
4)   Highlight Growth Opportunities: Emphasize career advancement and professional development opportunities within your firm to showcase the long-term value of joining your team. 
5)   Be Flexible: Show a willingness to negotiate but instead of focussing only on salary (which is expensive) consider factors such as bonus opportunities, flexible work hours, paid time off or additional benefits like gym memberships – small status symbol benefits can be worth a lot more than cash. 
6)   Set a Limit in Advance: Establish a cap on your negotiation range to maintain fairness among employees and stay within your budget. 
7)   Listen and Understand: Pay attention to the candidate's concerns and reasons for negotiating, addressing them professionally and empathetically. 
8)   Stay Professional: Maintain a respectful and courteous tone throughout the negotiation process, avoiding any confrontations or hard feelings. 
9)   Prepare for Counteroffers: Anticipate potential counteroffers from candidates and be ready to justify your offer. The candidate has a right to understand. Equally, ask and expect the same from them 
10)   Reiterate Company Culture: Emphasize the positive aspects of your firm's culture, work environment, and values to make the position more appealing to the candidate. 

As you move forward on your next hire, consider how your firm can improve its negotiation strategies. Consider what other factors can influence a candidate's decision to join your firm? How can your company culture contribute to making your offers more attractive? By addressing these questions and staying proactive, you'll be better equipped to navigate future salary negotiations and secure the best accounting professionals for your firm 



About the Authors

Giles Pearson FCA was a PwC Partner for 18 years before jointly setting up Accountests.  

Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before setting up Accountests.

Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests designed by accountants for accountants and bookkeepers. 

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