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Aldi pays their graduate recruits the highest salaries

CHRISTOPHER NIESCHE
March 14, 2018
The Australian 

German retailer Aldi will offer its graduate hires a salary well above the average as it tries to attract the best talent in a sometimes overlooked career sector.

As graduate recruitment season gets under way, Aldi said it was seeking 16 graduates for next year with “all kinds of degrees and skill sets”, offering them a total salary of $87,300.

“We want to attract the absolute best and brightest people. The salary is just one way that we do this, but we also offer extensive training and development opportunities, as well as a really strong work culture,” said James Buonopane, Aldi’s corporate finance and administration director.

He said that while the retailer received large numbers of applications, “we also know that retail is not necessarily the first career that graduates think about after university”.

“We know there are more people out there who wouldn’t initially be considering a career in retail and we want to show them the wealth of opportunities that we offer,” Mr Buonopane said.

The figure compares with the median graduate full-time salary of $60,000, according to the 2017 graduate outcomes survey from the federal Department of Education and Training. The Aldi graduate salary is higher than the median salaries for all graduates in 2017, with dentistry topping the list at $78,300, followed by medicine at $70,300.

The figure is also above the average base salary for new graduates this year of $64,208, excluding superannuation, that a survey by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers reveals.

While there are many more graduates than jobs, with an average of 50 applications per vacancy, competition can be tough for the best graduates.

“Our members typically receive hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of applications per year for their graduate programs. Candidates who make it all the way through the selection process can often find themselves being offered a graduate position at more than one employer,” said Ben Reeves, AAGE chief executive. 

Aldi isn’t seeking specific degrees or skills in its graduates, saying if someone has the right drive and initiative, they can learn the retail skills they will need for the job, and that university marks are just one factor in hiring.

“While they are an indication that a candidate has done well in their studies, we also want to see that they have enrolled in extracurricular activities, joined teams or took on some leadership responsibilities during their degree,” Mr Buonopane said.

At Woolworths, university marks are just a “small part” of what the retailer seeks in graduates, says Caryn Katsikogianis, Woolworths chief people officer.

“Having retail experience will certainly be an advantage as the graduate will have a head start on understanding the business. That is why we look internally first within Woolworths for prospective candidates. Curiosity and an ability to influence at many levels are future capabilities that will hold graduates in good stead,” she said.

Woolworths has about 150 graduates working in the group at any one time, said Ms Katsikogianis, but she declined to say how much they were paid, except that salaries were benchmarked to the market.

Coles also declined to say what it was paying graduates or its intake next year, but in past years it has taken about 300 graduates and paid them about $80,000, a spokesman said.

Coles HR director Leah Weckert said it put graduates into “functional streams”, and while jobs ins finance and legal required a specialised degree, most streams took graduates from a variety of backgrounds.

Aldi’s new hires will spend a year in the company’s graduate program, starting at Aldi’s local head office in Minchbury in western Sydney before returning to their local areas and becoming area managers at the end of training, running three to five stores and leading teams of about 50 people.

They have the opportunity to increase their salary to $155,000, including superannuation, after five years.

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