Salary Negotiation for Accounting Jobs: Mistakes to Avoid

An accountant extends his hands forward, palms up, to illustrate salary negotiation

You probably already know that serenading an employer with a musical version of your request for higher pay is likely to backfire. Still, not everyone is aware of some of the smaller errors you can make when attempting to negotiate your salary. Here are a few to avoid:

Being unprepared

What If a potential employer asks you to suggest a salary or gives you an initial offer? Make sure you take the time to review salary ranges before a salary negotiation. You need to know a reasonable starting figure or how far you can stretch the first figure that is thrown out.

Using unreliable research for salary negotiation

Anyone can run a quick web search for salary information, but simply clicking on the first link that comes up in search results can lead you to unreliable or outdated data on accounting and finance salaries. You need to find credible statistics, such as those available in the Salary Guide from Robert Half.

Verify your research by corroborating sources and speaking with professionals in your role and in the geographic region where you are applying, as salaries vary by location.

Unlock salary information for finance and accounting jobs in your geographic area using our salary calculator for accounting and finance professionals.


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Playing games

Be honest with potential employers. If they ask you for a desired salary range, give them numbers. Don't tell them you are flexible if you are unwilling to take a pay cut or consider alternative forms of compensation.

Be truthful about your previous salary if you're asked to share that information. Some companies will verify salary history, and you don't want to be caught lying to a potential employer.

Taking too long to provide a response

Employers won't wait around forever. If you need time to think over a final offer, commit to providing a response within a reasonable time and don't string the employer along while you explore other options. There is nothing wrong with walking away from a job that cannot give you an acceptable offer following a thoughtful salary negotiation.

Being too rigid

Consider options besides monetary compensation. You have to be willing to negotiate, which could mean finding a compromise between what potential employers offer and what you are willing to accept. For example, you could consider accepting just a modest salary boost if your employer agrees to match more of your retirement savings and to give you additional vacation days.

Mentioning irrelevant personal information

Potential employers are not concerned with your personal finances during a salary negotiation. Avoid mentioning your mortgage or other expenses as reasons you should be paid more. Instead, focus on your accounting job skills, what you can contribute to the company and your salary research.

Not working with a staffing firm that can negotiate for you

One of the smartest moves you can make to ensure a strong showing during any salary negotiation is to register with a specialized staffing firm. Why? Because your staffing representative will negotiate on your behalf. No one knows compensation trends for accounting and finance professionals better than he or she does. Your representative also speaks to hiring managers every day — he or she has experience in this area. Let your staffing manager take the lead, and you can focus on hitting the ground running when you start your new job.

Robert Half's Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance contains up-to-date information on salary ranges for accounting jobs, so you can enter your salary negotiation prepared.


Download the Salary Guide


Research worth reading on salaries for accounting jobs