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I’m An Underpaid CPA CA – How Do I Deal With That In A Job Interview?

I’m An Underpaid CPA CA – How Do I Deal With That In A Job Interview?

Straight Answers to Real Questions

Question: I’m a qualified CPA CA with almost three years of experience in industry since leaving public practice. I didn’t take the traditional route to getting my CA designation – I left public accounting when I had fulfilled all of my hours commitments to do some traveling and then wrote the UFEs when I returned to Canada. I took a job as a financial analyst with a large telecommunications company while I was waiting for my UFE results and because I didn’t have my designation at that time, my base pay scale was quite a bit less than it would have been had I already received my CPA designation.

I did end up passing the UFE but I’m stuck in the pay band I was hired in. Although I’ve received excellent performance reviews, a promotion and a raise, I’m still paid quite a bit less than my peers. How do I address this in job interviews? In order to get to a salary on a par with my education, experience and skill set, I have to ask for an increase of at least 25% more than I’m making now. Should I try to gloss over how much I’m currently earning when the subject of money comes up?

Answer: If you’re currently working in a position appropriate for someone at your level education and experience, then your remuneration should be on a par with similar CPA CAs in similar jobs. If you are 25% underpaid, then by all means make sure that the next job you take gets you back up to where you should be and don’t be shy about it. When you’re asked how much you’re making, don’t try to dance around or evade the question; answer it truthfully, explaining how and why you’re so egregiously underpaid. There are two unspoken questions on the interviewer’s mind that you have to address:

  • is there some sort of performance or attitude issue being reflected in your sub-market remuneration? and
  • are you really working at a level that far above what you’re currently earning?

If your story is credible, any hiring authority should take it at face value and assess your candidacy and remuneration requirements as they would anyone else with your credentials and experience.


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lance-1Osborne Financial Search is an executive search firm that works exclusively with finance and accounting professionals and executives. Our team has been helping companies identify and attract key financial talent for over twenty-five years.For information about how we can help your organization with its recruitment needs, visit us at www.OsborneFinancialSearch.com or contact me, Lance Osborne, President at (416) 915-4119, or via email at lance@osbornefinancialsearch.com.