When most people voluntarily switch jobs, they do so to get something out of it. They want to move up the ladder, switch to a more fulfilling career or earn more money. And sometimes they want to earn a lot more money.
To find out how to negotiate for a big raise when you switch jobs, we spoke with Mike Wolford, author of “How to Find and Land Your Dream Job: Insider Tips from a Recruiter.” Here’s his advice.
If you’re being tapped for a promotion or even a lateral move at your current company, be prepared to highlight the value you added in your current role. “Make sure you sit down with your new boss and define what success looks like in the new role and how your salary is related to the achievement of those goals,” Wolford says. For a promotion, you should be offered more money with more responsibility. For a lateral move, highlight how you’ll now be able to help in multiple departments and functions.
If you’re switching companies, you still need to highlight the value you added to your former company, but in a fresh way. Show you went above and beyond. “If you’re going to come in and basically do the same job as the last person that was in the role they are probably going to want to pay you what they were paying the person before you,” he says. This may or may not be the raise you want. You have to highlight the value that only you can bring, he says. List programs or initiatives that saved money, earned money or got some type of positive recognition, and back it up with numbers whenever possible. For example, you could say “I started a college recruiting program at my former employer that lessened turnover by 17 percent. I’d like to try something similar here.”
Most people don’t do this level of negotiating and haggling regularly, and there are a wealth of emotions that come with it. You want more money and security — but you don’t want to seem greedy or boastful and run the risk of losing the offer. Just acknowledge that it’ll be awkward for a bit, but you’ll get through it.
If you’ve reached the salary stage then this company obviously wants you, and they probably do have some experience with negotiations. They’re expecting this. “Don’t act like they have all the cards and you have to take their first offer,” Wolford says. Don’t be rude when you counter, but feel free to politely indicate you wanted more. “Thank them for their offer and then say something like, ‘I just have to ask, is this the absolute best you can do?’ It is hard, but asking is the only way you are going to get a better offer,” he says.
And if the company asks about your former salary and you feel like it was low, you can say you’d rather not disclose it. Wolford recommends something like, “I’m not as concerned with the salary as I am with the opportunity. I’m sure if everything works we can decide on a fair salary.”
If you and the company can’t fully agree on salary, there may be other things you can negotiate for that could sweeten the pot for both of you. It never hurts to ask about other things that would make work better for you, Wolford says.
Your “big raise” may be in the form of a sign-on bonus, getting to work from home two days a week or getting the flexibility to schedule your hours around your child’s Little League games. The company could agree to pay for an expensive certification you’ve wanted as part of your professional development. This will save you money, but not appear as salary. And you can try for more vacation time than originally offered, but don’t expect it, Wolford says. “PTO is probably an HR policy, so there might not be any wiggle room there.”
Whatever creative perks you get, make sure they’re written in your formal offer letter so they’ll be clear to others even if the person who hired you leaves the company.
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