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Career Counselor
How to Negotiate a Competitive Starting Compensation Package


October 2006 Demand for skilled accounting professionals remains strong, but many candidates are still reluctant to ask for higher compensation for fear they may lose the opportunity or damage their relationship with a future supervisor if they are too assertive. However, starting salary and benefits are among the most negotiable components of a job offer, and future raises, bonuses and vacation time are often based on beginning compensation levels.



It's in your best interest to negotiate during the job-offer stage, but you should research the marketplace and understand its trends before you put your requirements on the table. Following are some additional tips for negotiating effectively:

  • Know your value. Become familiar with the expertise and abilities in demand and determine how your skills compare with them before negotiating your desired compensation. Review resources such as the Salary Guide from Robert Half International to find out what the expected salary range is for professionals in your specialty and location.

  • Research the employer. Your familiarity with the company's industry, products, management and services will allow you to make a concentrated pitch on the strengths you bring to the team and position yourself for higher compensation.

  • Asses other options. Look beyond salary and analyze the work/life components of the offer, such as tuition reimbursement, performance-based bonuses, vacation time and flexible schedules, before making your decision.

  • Be confident. Don't shy away from asking for what you feel you deserve. Your past experiences, academic background, feedback from previous employers and professors, and research should help you determine what your skills and expertise are worth. Always maintain your professionalism and recognize the value you bring.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2006 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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