Salary negotiations have changed drastically in New York City since last November. In an effort to promote pay equity, Bill 1253-A bans companies in the city from asking job applicants about their salary history. As a result, now is the time to re-strategize the way you approach discussions about your accounting salary with prospective employers.
“There’s a common misconception amongst job seekers that discussions about salary are completely off the table,” says Michael Cooke, Executive Vice President at The Execu|Search Group who oversees our Accounting/Finance division. “While it is true that you cannot be prompted to disclose your accounting salary history, questions about your expectations are fair game. With the conversation shifting, this is something you must be prepared to discuss in all of your interviews.”
While this specific pay equity law only applies to New York City, other cities and states have also passed similar legislation. Following this trend, several companies such as Amazon and Bank of America are proactively banning questions about salary history from their hiring process. “Although pay equity legislation has not yet been passed on a national level, various local laws are having wide-spread effects,” says Michael. “As a result, it never hurts to be too prepared.”
Here are 4 ways to set your accounting salary expectations with prospective employers:
Do your research:
While this law does present an opportunity to leverage a higher accounting salary, it’s important to be realistic about what you’re asking for. “Compensation will vary by industry and experience level, so do some research prior to your interviews to know what is competitive with market trends,” advises Michael. “Other factors such as hours, bonus structure, and company size can also dictate the salary.” To establish a realistic baseline, you should be educated on all these variables for every company you meet with.
Know your range:
When asked about your salary expectations, it’s essential to have a range in mind. “Use your pre-interview research to determine what you are willing to accept for the role,” says Michael. “Then, you can use this range to guide the conversation about your salary expectations.” Just be sure to be strategic in your approach. If you aim too high, the employer may think you are being unrealistic. But, aim too low, and you risk selling yourself short.
Be able to justify your worth:
Whether you are first setting your expectations with a prospective employer or you are going to negotiate for a higher accounting salary, you must be able to justify your worth. “Approach this process with a business mentality and leave emotion out of it,” advises Michael. “This is a sensitive conversation since you are negotiating for what you think you are worth. However, you need to look at it from a factual perspective if you want to be successful. Speak confidentially about your accomplishments and have the context and concrete examples to back them up.”
If you already earn a salary that is higher than what your prospective employer is offering, it may make sense to volunteer this information. “If you do this, however, know that everything else is fair game,” warns Michael. “Now that the floodgates are open, the hiring manager can ask you about everything related to salary history, ranging from your benefits to your PTO.”
Meet with an expert:
If you’re not sure of where to start, a recruiter can be an excellent resource to turn to. As industry specialists, they have unique insight into what accounting salaries look like across a wide variety of employers. “Whether you are actively looking or just want to explore your options, having a relationship with a recruiter can benefit your career in a number of ways,” says Michael. “From setting salary expectations to learning about market trends, they’re there to help you find career success.”
The Execu|Search Group has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided in this article. If you have any questions about these laws, please reach out to your legal counsel.