Negotiating Accounting and Finance Salaries: 4 Tips for First-Timers


You just aced the interview for your first accounting or finance job. Congratulations! Now it’s time for a salary negotiation. You might feel a little uncomfortable naming a starting salary due to your lack of experience in the field and a limited knowledge of finance and accounting salaries. How do you convince your new employer you’re worth every dime you ask for?

Keep in mind you were offered the job for a reason — the employer thinks you have what it takes. You need to know what you have to offer and what you should expect. Here are four tips for maximizing the outcome of your first salary negotiation:

1. Tout your expertise

If you underestimate the value of your overall experience, you’ll undersell yourself. Although you may be new to finance, you wouldn’t be negotiating a starting salary if your prospective employer hadn’t seen something on your resume that piqued his or her interest. Bolster your request by citing specific examples of how you contributed to organizational success in previous roles. Additionally, show employers that you’re worth paying a bit more for by outlining the ways in which you can help them achieve their business goals.  

2. Show off your skills

Today’s financial professionals are expected to do much more than crunch numbers and balance the corporate checkbook. It’s likely you picked up many desirable skills in your former positions outside of accounting and finance. Highlight these during your salary negotiation. It helps to know that many accounting and finance jobs are shifting toward data analysis, which means employers value tech prowess and problem-solving abilities. Nontechnical soft skills — such as communication and leadership — are also highly sought, as finance teams regularly collaborate with members of other departments.

3. Emphasize degrees and certifications

In most cases, advanced degrees and certifications automatically take your starting salary up a notch or two. CPAs and CMAs are certainly desirable, but you can play up other credentials in salary negotiations as well. According to the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half for accounting and finance, candidates with an MBA or project management professional (PMP) certification are on many companies’ wish list. Make certain your employer appreciates the value you’ll bring the organization with your demonstrated dedication to your career.

4. Know what you’re worth

To estimate your market value, take a look at what others in your field are earning. Our 2015 Salary Guide provides a detailed listing of finance and accounting salaries for some of the hottest positions. You can get an even more specific idea of the going rate for your new position by using our salary calculator that provides salaries by region.

Make sure you have a solid understanding of what you’re worth before the day arrives for a salary negotiation. When you appreciate the value of your talents and expertise, you increase your chances of securing a satisfying salary.

Do you have tips for professionals negotiating their first finance and accounting salaries? Share them in the comments section.