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Aussie workers slammed for ‘unrealistic’ salary demands

New research suggests Aussie bosses aren’t happy about how much workers expect to be paid.

A composite image of a crowd of workers walking and Australian currency.
Aussie workers are requesting higher salaries and bosses aren't happy about it. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Aussies want to be paid more and employers aren’t happy about it, according to new research from Robert Half.

The 2023 Robert Half Salary Guide found 61 per cent of employers had candidates request an unrealistic salary in the past 12 months.

The research found jobseekers were requesting salaries on average 16 per cent higher than the one they were initially offered, with almost one in 10 (8 per cent) requesting a salary more than 40 per cent higher than what they were initially offered.

“A candidate-driven market in 2022 has created an environment in which many candidates still expect to receive high salaries in 2023. However, with more businesses being cautious about an economic downturn, with many focused on cost management, only those who have the very highest in-demand skills - such as financial partnering, financial modelling, and big data analytics, or those who work in technology devops and cyber-security roles – may find they can negotiate for larger salary increments,” Robert Half Asia-Pacific senior managing director David Jones said.

“Taking this further, 2023 will be a year where the candidate’s bargaining power has started to rebalance and it will become rarer to see high-percentage increases for both candidates who move companies and those who stay with existing employers.”

Get used to heading the word ‘no’

Just as candidates are not afraid to ask for a premium above the initial salary offer, so too are employers not afraid to put their foot down.

While 41 per cent of candidates were successful in securing more than was originally offered, 59 per cent were not, with 22 per cent accepting the initial salary offered, 23 per cent not accepting the original offer and 14 per cent of employers even withdrawing their offer.

“People who are changing jobs need to start to consider what motivates them to move beyond a salary increment. In 2023, it will become more common for employers to hold firm on not meeting what they consider more unrealistic salary requests,” Jones said.

“That being said, some candidates are still going into interviews with significant salary requests, expecting them to be met, which can increasingly be perceived as unreasonable to a new employer.

“At a time when efficiency and cost management is at the forefront for most companies, high in-demand niche skills and those who can make a significant difference to business operations, saving time, money and effort, are likely to be most favoured.”

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