Are your salary expectations reasonable?


Graduates with dreams of earning big bucks need to be realistic about their starting salaries.

Recent studies reveal that graduates have unrealistic salary expectations when searching for their first jobs. Even though many first-time job seekers view graduate programs and internships as a great stepping stone to fruitful careers, many of these graduates are of the belief that when employed, what they’ll be doing will be on par with what they’ll be earning.

The Universum Student Survey Report of 2013/2014 compiled by the Tshwane University of Technology found that of all the students interviewed from 23 universities across the country, 66% were concerned about finding employment at the end of their studies. The annual report which gathers research regarding individuals’ career preferences, communication habits and perception of potential employers revealed that on average these students expected an annual salary of R271 164 per annum.

Although numerous graduates have unreasonably high salary expectations, many first-time job seekers are too picky. In his Youth must seize all job opportunities article, Abram Molelemane of the Graduate Asset Programme writes that South African youth are “constantly ranting and whining about the government’s failure to create jobs, yet, when working opportunities present themselves, we are quick to say ‘I don’t want that kind of job’, or, ‘this is not what I studied for’”.

Business owners also share the same sentiments, with many going as far as disregarding interns who demand unrealistic salaries.

It is essential that graduates realize work experience counts for much in today’s job market. As a first-time job seeker it is important that you do background research to find out what you can expect to earn as you start out. It will be beneficial for both you and your employer if from the start you are honest about your expectations. Lastly, be patient. As your career progresses, so will your earning potential improve.

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