Top tips on negotiating a pay rise when changing jobs

woman talking with colleague

By Yetunde Hofmann

Changing jobs can be an exciting opportunity and to maximise your success, it is imperative that any move you make is done with your eyes wide open and armed with all the information you need and gained through a well-planned, executive due diligence exercise. 

As someone who has sat on both sides of the table in these negotiations, I’d like to offer some top dos and don’ts on how to secure a pay rise when moving jobs.

Don’t reveal your hand too soon

Once you’ve received a firm offer from your new employer, you can start the negotiations around your salary and other benefits, but you should resist revealing your salary expectations until that point. There is no way a company would go to market for a job without having an idea of what they’d be happy to pay the ideal candidate. So, if you are asked about your pay expectations, throw it back to them and ask what their anticipated compensation package is for the ideal candidate. Negotiation is all about holding your nerve and it can truly pay to keep your cards close to your chest.

Do your research

Your skills and experience are valuable, so find out how much they’re worth by doing your research. Identify similar roles in your industry and at your level and look at how much they are offering as a compensation and benefits package. Focus on the going rate for the role and not your current pay. It can also be helpful to check in with someone in your network with the knowledge of recruitment and HR, such as a head-hunter or friend who works in the profession. Ask them for their honest advice about what compensation they would expect to be offering for a role such as yours.  You can ask them what the minimum and what the ideal number and components of your package should be.

Don’t blink first

Moving too quickly can mean that you accept conditions that aren’t optimal for your progression so don’t be afraid of slowing the process down to give yourself breathing space to weigh-up your options. Ask for a date of when your potential employers need your response and take that time to consider everything. You could also request information about the nature of performance and pay reviews, timescales and what is typically awarded at these junctures. You are also well within your right to ask for clarification on what is included within a contract, so don’t be afraid of asking questions if you spot something that you aren’t sure about.

Do be clear on what you’re bringing to the table

Be clear on how your current capabilities match the role that you are being offered. If you have gaps in your experience or skillset then explain how your style of learning, leadership and potential will ensure you are able to close that gap in no time. Demonstrate your hunger to learn and your ambition, not in terms of pay cheques and status but in terms of the difference you want to make in the world and in the company you are looking to join.

Don’t be blinded by dollar signs

Pay is only one area with which you can negotiate. Look at the wider package and what else matters to you, for example if you would like to work flexibly, what childcare provisions and parental leave options are available, etc. Be sure to include these in your discussions and if you are given a verbal offer, do ask for it in writing so you can read all that is included.

Do think long-term

Whether you’re moving up in your current organisation, horizontally to a new department, or switching industries altogether, it’s imperative that you understand how this role propels you towards your long-term career goals. Think beyond this job to 2 or 3 roles ahead and ask about the support for development that is provided in terms of mentors and sponsors, training programmes, memberships, networking opportunities, and more. How will this role, based on your current understanding, put in you in the best place to be on target for your future roles?

Don’t forget the people around you

We all want to work in a company and team where we can contribute and foster our personal and professional growth. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask to speak to the people who are already working within your new team so you have an idea of who you will be working alongside and how your role fits into their current structure and processes.

It’s also important to ensure that you don’t burn any bridge in your current company or the company you are leaving. You never know when they will need you or indeed you will need them. Leaders who lead with love – and love is the most critical leadership capability in the world needed to day – treat others with respect and integrity, both in the leaving and in the joining. Thank you cards and emails written personally to each of your stakeholders as you exit will be remembered for good for a long time to come.

Yetunde Hofmann


About the Author

Yetunde Hofmann is a Portfolio Non-Executive Director; a Board level leadership coach and mentor; global change and inclusion advisor; author of Beyond Engagement; and Founder of the Solaris Executive Leadership Development Academy.

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