We regularly hear that there are not enough good quality candidates in the market. Does this mean we can expect ever increasing salaries at the junior level? Well, I’ve got some bad news for you, so I suggest you take a seat…

In our teens we feel the world is our oyster. We have forensic conversations with our friends about what we are going to spend our first million pounds on – which we believe will be our undoubted worth by the time we are 21.

Once we’ve been to university, we’ve probably tempered this slightly. But we still go on a job hunt fully believing that a £60,000 a year role is just around the corner.

Here comes the bad news – it’s not. There will be many twists and turns to negotiate first. Highly paid jobs come with experience. It takes time. And it means an awful lot of hard work.

Managing expectations: What are firms likely to offer?

Some firms may offer packages slightly over the marketplace average to secure the best candidates. But this is not typical or sustainable. Instead, consider the following:

  1. Think beyond salary. We see firms increasingly attracting good quality candidates based on other factors such as career progression, exposure to senior management/partners, and work/life balance.
  2. Firms will have a specific budget allocated to any given role – £25,000-30,000, for example. If you apply for a job and get offered the role at £26,000 don’t immediately come back and ask for £35,000. It’s not going to happen.
  3. If a role is advertised at a salary that you would not be happy with, then don’t apply. Trying to argue your way up against a set budget will be an exercise in futility for all concerned.
  4. There are times when negotiation is necessary – for example, if the offer comes in below your expectations and the salary bracket advertised. But still be realistic. Over-inflated demands may result in a firm retracting its offer.
  5. Be wary of playing firms off against each other. Yes, good candidates may receive multiple offers in the current marketplace. But don’t claim another firm has offered you a higher salary in the hope of increasing an offer, unless it’s 100% true. Firms are not stupid.
  6. Remember too, you are not a finished product when you start a new job. Your role – and the tasks you undertake – will evolve as you come to understand it better and build the trust of your fellow colleagues. Similarly, firms will expect it to take a little time for to find your feet and start to add value. Your initial offer package will reflect this.

Don’t get me wrong. Confidence in your own ability is a very positive thing. Alongside intelligence and drive, it should take you a long way in your career. Show off these qualities by clearly understanding the current market landscape and your value within it. No one is going to pay you £50,000 a year until your have proved you are worth every penny of that.

The most important thing to remember is that promotions, increased salaries and other opportunities come about through hard work, an honest understanding of the market and being clear about what you want from your next role and your career.

Make decisions based on wider considerations than simply title and salary. And remember, career progression takes time. Embrace this and you will not only ensure your career longevity but that you are happier and better respected within the sector as a result.

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