I have a friend of a friend…lovely girl, reasonably intelligent from an intellectual perspective but the thing she seems to lack is   common sense when it comes to being realistic about what she can bring to a job for the salary she seeks. To provide a little bit of background on my friend-of-a-friend-she is in her very early 20’s, has just completed a business degree with an international business major & her previous employment experience is inclusive of and limited to bar work.

So, here is her dilemma; she has recently moved interstate as a graduate, has quite an expensive rent to pay and has obtained more bar work, she isn’t quite certain about the business path she wants to embark upon but has an interest in human resource management (HRM) and (here’s the real bottle neck to her career commencement abilities) she won’t accept anything less than $55k + super for her first ever corporate role. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am completely aware that some graduate role in large entities do offer salaries that hover around the $50k mark, however my issue in this anecdote is that said friend-of-a-friend is not seeking a graduate position in a multi-million dollar company….she is trying her chances via main stream employment opportunities.

Now, I’m not suggesting that she is not capable, not aspirational or not a hard worker, the view that I am stressing however, is that she should couple realistic expectations with the salary she seeks for the experience she has. A few months ago she was offered a job as a receptionist/administration assistant in a medium sized company….they were offering $42k +super and she turned it down. This was the point in which I wanted to shake her and tell her that your first role fresh out of uni, bright-eyed with degree in hand is not about making your millions, but rather about the invaluable experience and expose to the business world you will gain. There was no reasoning with her though, she considers her gross worth to be $55k +super per annum no matter how junior her skills. Her other issue seems to be on par with her salary expectations in that she is applying for mid-level human resource consultant roles and can’t work out why she isn’t at least being interviewed. I am all for recognising your self-worth but how much self-worth can you maintain when you’re not able to make use of your degree for so long because your salary expectations are so far-fetched or you consider yourself to be more capable than you actually are? And as time goes on, with now prospect of a suitable job on the horizon she becomes more upset, but even then her desired salary does not waver.

‘I started from the bottom now I’m here’, are the unexpectedly philosophical words of a famous rapper that implies that we all need to begin at the beginning to achieve our desired conclusion; I believe my friend-of-a-friend would gain extensive value if she took these words on board and applied then to her job hunt with the intention of beginning her career. And even though she won’t be living the high life, with an impressive job status to follow from the get-go, at the very least she would be taking a step in the right direction! And so I’ll leave you with this-in the first instance, negotiate your worth with yourself based upon you qualifications AND your experience for a role, add a touch of realism, apply for jobs within your means and then it is worth attempting to negotiate your salary expectations with a prospective employer!

Written by Louise McGuinness, Associate Consultant at Harvest Recruitment. If you are unsure about the right career move after you have graduated or are seeking some guidance in regards to salary expectation call us on 1300 363 128 to talk to one of our consultants or register for our careers workshops.

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