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Managing your pay rise expectations

Manage your pay rise expectation when changing jobs

If you’re leaving your job for another employer, perhaps a competitor, you’ll no doubt be expecting a raise in salary, even if the role is on a par with your old one. It’s natural to want more money, and if another company wants to take you on, surely you deserve the extra cash?

Unfortunately, things are not always quite as simple as that. In the field of architecture recruitment, for example, it’s been common for candidates to expect pay rises as high as 15% to 20%, particularly if they haven’t had much of a hike from their existing employer for a year or two.

In reality, while employers want to offer the best package they can to secure their ideal candidates, those recruits need to fit into an existing pay structure. Treating a new member of the team any differently can cause all sorts of problems to existing staff, much like dressing-room unrest when a football club buys a new striker and pays him three times more than anyone else.

The answer, for candidates, is to manage your expectations of the salary hike you might expect – and to work on how to ensure you get it. There will likely be three key factors that employers will consider when evaluating a new salary.


1 What is your current salary?

You’ll be asked your current salary at the interview. The employer will want to know your base salary, any overtime awards, bonus structure, pension contributions, share options and any other attractive benefits like life cover and private health insurance.

Naturally, the employer will want to offer some increase, but perhaps 5% would be generous, with 10% an exception. Certainly not as high as the 15% to 20% that you might hope for. Don’t be tempted to inflate your current salary to grab more cash at the new place – your new employers will see through your ruse.

Further, it would help if you considered that, while your new place of work will likely give you a modest rise, they will be hoping money is not your motivation for joining them. In interview, for example, you want to be pressing home your desire to join a winning team; to further your career and to meet a new challenge head-on.


2 What will the market accommodate?

Even if your new place of work might want to give you a healthy pay rise, there are other considerations aside from its existing pay structure. Chiefly, what can the market accommodate? In other words, how are architecture practices coping with economic conditions? In a stagnant jobs market, caused by shrinking order books, there’s simply no way they will be splashing the cash around.

Further, some candidates might be willing to join them and take a pay cut, simply to remain in employment.

OK, that’s a little extreme, and there’s no suggestion the industry is currently on its knees, far from it. But you get the idea that outside forces will be at play.


3 How well did you perform in the interview?

The third key factor in determining what pay rise you might get is how well you came over during the interview process. So, the company has offered you the position, but park your ego outside the door for one minute. If you blew your new employers’ minds with a stunning performance, you might find yourself in a handy position because management will bend over backwards to get you on board.

But if you were only just the best candidate, or perhaps even second choice, you’re not going to get the handsome reward you believe you deserve.


Understand that some things matter more than salary

They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat (although we wouldn’t recommend any of them), and so there’s more to job rewards than a basic salary. Any of these might help you come to terms with a more modest pay rise:

  • Overtime – is it available? One role with a slightly lower salary might have paid overtime, which takes your package above someone with a higher base salary but no paid overtime option.
  • Work/life balance is increasingly important. Does your new employer offer flexible working hours? Can you work from home one day a week? Both might be more valuable to you than a few extra pounds in your bank account.
  • The cost of living is also a factor. For example, if your new role is in a county like Suffolk, as opposed to London, your living costs will be lower, and you might not need a costly commute.
  • Career prospects at your new place of work might be so good that you’ll accept a more modest base salary knowing you’ll soon be flying high if you perform well.


Be realistic, and you won’t be downbeat

Understanding the reasons why the pay rise at your new job is not as high as you expected will keep you motivated and keen to impress your new colleagues. Becoming downcast about your pay so quickly will affect your performance and demeanour, which in itself will impact on future progression and reward.


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