You’ve been at your current company for a while now. Things have gotten too predictable and old, and you decide that it’s time for a change. So, you spend the weekends and evenings after work to apply to hundreds of jobs, and take time off work to attend a handful of interviews. And finally, after weeks or months of nervous anticipation, you finally get a job offer. Congrats!
You’re excited to join your new company. After all, you’ll get to work with new people and experience new ways of doing things. But as you’re handed your employment contract, there’s one thing that’s stuck at the forefront of your mind — your new salary.
Sure, it’s a bit higher than your old salary, and the benefits are great. However, as you grasp the pen to sign your name on the dotted line, you can’t help but ponder all of the hypotheticals. How much more should I have gotten? What would they have offered if I had just asked for more — or better yet, negotiated back-and-forth about my compensation?
In this article, we answer your burning questions about the salary increases that come with new jobs. How much more should you be making when you land a new role, and what can you do during the job search and interview process to increase your chances of a salary bump? Let’s find out.
What’s the average salary increase when changing jobs in 2022?
While the exact answer to this question depends on a multitude of factors, such as your industry, level of seniority, company, location, and whether you’re underpaid or overpaid in your current job, the average range of salary increases for people switching jobs tends to hover around ~5–10%.
Keep in mind that in 2021, inflation rose to 6.8%, the highest in more than 30 years — this means that in 2022, specifically, you're going to want to aim for a salary increase of at least 7%, if not 10% if you're looking at an increase in responsibilities, or seniority.
In other words, a mid-level marketing manager earning $100,000 in her current role should expect to earn $5,000 to $10,000 more in a usual year — or $105,000 to $110,000 — if she leaves her role for a new position at another firm. In 2022, that same person should aim to earn $7,000 to $10,000 more in a usual year (if not more), to keep in line with inflation rates.
You should note that both are notably more significant than the annual pay increase for people sticking around at their company — which, on average, tends to be only about 2–3% a year, barely enough to offset the effects of inflation of a standard year.
How much more should I aim for?
Of course, while the average range for job increases is 5-10%, that doesn’t mean you’re limited to these figures. When switching jobs, you should aim to negotiate for at least a 10-20% pay increase, for a few reasons.
First, you’re unlikely to get the full amount you negotiated for, since a common tactic is for employers to counteroffer with a lower salary — prompting both parties to meet in the middle of the range as a compromise.
Second, you should aim high because you have the high ground here. If things go south, you can always return to your current job (assuming you didn’t quit before you had your new job lined up) — which means that you can afford to sit around for a good offer to roll in.
Your compensation is more than just your base salary
Note that these pay increases should be measured in terms of total compensation, including benefits like paid time off, insurance coverage, stock options, and the like — not just cash compensation. So, if your new company is offering higher cash compensation but a weaker benefits package than your current one, you should factor that in — and discount the cash component appropriately.
How to get a salary increase when changing jobs
From polishing your resume, acing the interview, and honing your negotiation skills, there are a plethora of things you can do to up your chances at getting a large salary increase when getting a new job. Below are just a few.
Be an attractive candidate
To have a fighting chance at a pay bump, you’ll need to position yourself as an impressive candidate — someone who has made a real impact for their previous employers. The moment you look like a star hire is the moment you gain significant leverage over your prospective employer — and it all starts with a well-written and tailored resume.
Don’t show your hand
Never disclose your current salary if you can help it. Many employers, especially the unscrupulous ones, will ask for your current salary — though luckily, this practice is being outlawed in many states.
Instead, if you’re looking for a salary bump, state the range you’re looking for in the prospective role. This is especially important if you’re being underpaid in your current one!
Also, if you can, see if the role lists a salary range upfront (though many employers don’t do this, some states are making it mandatory) — and use resources like Glassdoor and Blind — or even interview others in the industry — for more information.
Understand, however, that some salary ranges may be more flexible than others, depending on the company, hiring manager, and role. In general, if the stated range is well below what you’re looking for, don’t count on your salary offer to magically land above the high end of the range — no matter how great of a candidate you are. Sometimes, companies just don’t have the budget for it.
Gather as much intel as you can
Always do your own research before you apply to any position. Familiarize yourself with the market, and take note of the salaries typically offered for the role you’re applying for in the industry you’re in.
Dig deeper into the company as well. Find out what they usually offer for the position you’re applying for. Again, interviewing people who are already working at the company you’re looking to get into is a great way to get more information on the company and role.
In short, seek out as much information as you can get your hands on. The more you have, the more likely you are to be successful in getting a significant salary increase.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
Always negotiate your offer, and stay away from automatically accepting the initial salary a company offers you, unless it’s right at the top of the stated salary range (but even then, it doesn’t hurt to ask!)
And don’t be shy about it either. If they’re offering you a salary, they want to hire you — and this is the point in the recruiting process where you have the greatest leverage, so you should negotiate like you have the upper hand.
More specifically, be reasonably aggressive (but polite) when negotiating, and don’t be afraid to enter into multiple rounds of negotiations, presenting counteroffers at each step. You can even try to get a company to give you a counter-offer based on an offer from another company (or your current one). However, like all aggressive negotiation tactics, this one can backfire, because it signals to your prospective employer that you’re less likely to be loyal and more willing to jump ship if better opportunities arise — and may make you a prime target for layoffs or other adverse situations.
Also, note that you shouldn’t try to pit one company against the other — don’t accept one job offer and then try to negotiate a higher salary afterwards based on a counter-offer. Remember, negotiations should occur after you get the offer but before you accept it — but once you do accept an offer, it’s a done deal.
Finally, keep in mind that a future raise or bonus at your future employer may not pan out — and even if it does, it may not make up for a lackluster starting salary. In fact, it may be easier to get a new job than it is to get a meaningful raise — some companies have raise caps, but are willing to offer new hires much higher starting salaries.
Other things to note
If companies are really unable or unwilling to budge on their salary offer, try negotiating benefits instead. Certain companies that can’t offer higher salaries may be willing to offer better benefits, like more paid time off, flexible working arrangements, or better insurance coverage.
All this is to say that it’s difficult to understate the importance of negotiating a compensation package you’re satisfied with during the recruiting process — since this may be the only chance you get to influence your salary in a significant way, at least for the following few years.
When to look for a new job to increase your salary
Like many things, there’s an optimal time for job hunting. If you’re looking to maximize your salary offer, try applying towards the start of the year (especially if your current company pays out year-end bonuses or if paid time off is accrued based on days worked) — or once your stock options and/or 401(k) match vests.
Other times to look for a higher salary and a new job are when you’ve done something significant in your current role that you can quantify, or if you’ve achieved a promotion. After all, if you’re looking for a raise — or if you want a higher salary offer for a new role — you better be able to justify what you’ve accomplished to merit it.
Finally, other opportune times to consider switching jobs include:
- When you’re currently underpaid and your current company isn’t willing to budge. (Inflation in 2021 rose to 6.8% so you want to make sure your company adjusts your salary accordingly.)
- When you’re moving to an area with a higher cost of living. (If this is the case, you should negotiate a much higher salary increase in a new role — one that’s at least commensurate with the increase in cost of living — or else, you effectively get yourself a pay cut.
- If you have in-demand skills, or when the labor market is tight (like it is now).