Graduates, what should you know about your future salary?

29 September 2020

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That to graduate is a test of maturity? At a certain moment in time, yes. The real test is the transition from student life to the carousel of working life. If you have just graduated, completed your studies or still have those landmarks in front of you, we will advise you on how to adapt yourself as quickly as possible to the world of earnings, payslips and salary negotiations.

Welcome to the real world. It sucks, but you're going to love it.

Do you remember the scene from the pilot of the series Friends in which Rachel cuts up her father's credit cards and starts living alone? Monica says to her: "Welcome to the real world. It sucks, but you're going to love it."

Rachel started working as a waitress and at first did not understand why much of her payslip had disappeared as payment towards insurance deductions, but by the end of the series she was already working as a manager in the fashion industry. Over time, she learned the ins and outs of the job market and found that the terrible real world wasn't so bad after all. From a certain point of view, therefore, her situation is very similar to when a student leaves their 'alma mater' and goes out into the world.

Are you one of the thousands of university, college or secondary school graduates who find themselves in a similar position nowadays? We believe that the answers to the frequently asked questions in our beginner's salary manual will make the start of your career that much smoother.

1. Why doesn't everyone in the same position automatically earn the same?

Each person has a different mix of experience and so salaries will depend on how able someone is to "sell" themselves to their employer when negotiating their wages. Education, practice, experience, command of foreign languages, computer programs, systems, and the ability to work in a team, communicate, present or manage other people - all of this and much more adds up to create your unique value and increases the potential salary you can get for your work.

Therefore, it is good to work and constantly learn during your career and, if possible, to gain experience during school through internships, volunteering, part-time jobs or part-time work.

Tip: Be sure to mention all your relevant experience in your CV that best represents your interest and capability to work in a specific position, industry or company.

2. How do I find out what salary is adequate for a position?

There is no easy answer to this question. A final salary is influenced by a number of factors, such as the region or industry in which the company operates, the knowledge needed to be able to carry it out professionally and, last but not least, its value on the job market.

Since you cannot choose your profession simply based on the average wage in the national economy, do a more detailed survey at www.paylab.com before your interview.

Search for a specific position in the salary questionnaire, indicate that you have not worked yet and find out what the average salary for a position is, even in terms of your education.

Tip: In addition, check with acquaintances who work in a similar or the same position. Don't ask them how much they earn directly, it's much more tactful to ask something like: What do you think is a fair starting salary for a pharmaceutical representative in your region? 

3. What's the best way to negotiate a salary without previous experience?

Salary negotiations are a natural part of every hiring or appraisal interview. Just try not to associate them with as much drama as in a gangster film! Negotiating a salary should be a constructive conversation during which the employee's salary requirements are aligned with the employer's funds, ideally so that both parties are satisfied.

Before each negotiation, do the salary survey we mentioned above. Be sure to range from the lowest amount (with which you will be satisfied in terms of cost of living) to the highest (which would be going above and beyond and would make you very happy). If you have no previous experience of working in the position, agree at the beginning on the amount proposed by the HR specialist, provided they agree to increase your salary if they are satisfied with you after the probationary period.

4. What is the difference between super-gross, gross and net salaries?

The amount typically published in job adverts and discussed in interviews is the gross salary. (Be sure what type of salary is mentioned in the job offer, it can vary country from country.) This is the portion of the salary from which you will then pay statutory insurance deductions and taxes. The amount that remains after all mandatory fees and that will be deposited in your account represents the net salary.

The super-gross salary is the total expense to the employer for your work. It consists of the net and gross salary, to which the employer's contributions (In Slovakia it is 35.2%) are added and which represents the employer's compulsory payments for your social and health insurance.

5. What are statutory insurance deductions and income tax, and how do I read a payslip?

Nearly everyone who earns money is obliged to pay income tax and social and health insurance deductions on their earnings. This applies to employees and entrepreneurs, the only difference is that the employer carries out these obligations for employees, while entrepreneurs are responsible for doing them themselves.

Salary deductions include a number of individual insurances: sickness, disability, old-age and unemployment insurance (which are paid to Social Insurance) + health insurance (which is paid to your health insurer). You pay a specific part of these deductions from your gross salary (in Slovakia 13.4% in total), and your employer pays another part from the super-gross salary (in Slovakia 35.2%) on your behalf.

Income tax (in Slovakia to the value of 19%) is paid to the Tax Authority in the form of monthly advance payments, which is deducted every month in the corresponding amount. Income tax is not calculated from the full gross salary. All statutory deductions are made first, and then the non-taxable portion of the tax base is deducted (it changes annually).

The payslip your employer must provide on a monthly basis contains a detailed list of all payments made to the government and insurers and specifies the amount that will be credited to your account. We have provided detailed instructions on how to read a payslip in this article.

We wish every success and the best possible start in the "real world" to anyone who is about to start their first job and receive their first payslip.


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