In the December 6, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wants a 30% salary increase to accept a big promotion and relocation.
As a senior manager with a big manufacturing company, I lead a sizable sales team and have enjoyed good career growth over 18 years. I’ve been told I am a high-potential employee and they are considering me for a promotion to a director job at HQ or in one of our national regions, which would require a relocation. I’m ready to move, but I won’t do it without a considerable salary increase.
I have done some homework and 30% seems to be the right number. Our company typically would only give me a 10% raise. But my thought is that, if I am getting uprooted and taking on more pressure and responsibility, they need to compensate me for it. Is this a reasonable response to give them, or a bad one?
Congrats on the good news. My view of this is, you put your proposal out there along with your justification, and that’s where the negotiating starts. But there are two potential issues.
- Will you offend them because you dared ask for 3X what they were probably going to offer you?
- Can you justify what you’re asking for?
Let’s consider the possibilities — and prepare for them.
The salary increase stinks
There’s not much you can do about management that gets offended easily, so you need to make a judgment. Could asking for so much get them upset? Are you prepared to deal with such a reaction? What I’m really asking is, would you decline the promotion — or quit — if they don’t give you what you think you’re worth?
Finally, have you prepared for the worst case — they dismiss you? (See Negotiate a better job offer by saying YES.)
You need to ask yourself what the odds are in each case, and you need to plan in advance what your response will be. Don’t wait to figure this out while it’s happening, because that’s when people make mistakes.
Your justification stinks
As far as salary surveys and what you’ve determined others are getting paid —that doesn’t matter to your employer. If they were looking at the same data you are, they’d give you 30%, right?
I believe people should be paid what they’re worth to a business. But I also believe it’s up to the employee or job candidate to demonstrate what they’re worth. The employer will not figure it out for you. Don’t rely on salary surveys like Glassdoor — your employer will tell you it’s not really relevant. (For other readers’ insights, see Am I chasing the salary surveys?) Best case, they’re looking to pay something “fair” that’s still a discount for them.
No matter what Glassdoor (or any survey) reports, all your employer has to say is, “Those positions don’t accurately reflect our company.” Or, your employer will bring out its own salary survey — which shows you’re not worth so much. (In that case, see Beat The Salary Surveys: Get a higher job offer.) If you base your case on such data, the negotiation will end there.
Make sure your justification doesn’t stink.
Be worth the salary increase you want
So here’s the only way to deal with this, in my opinion. The case you make for a 30% salary increase must address the benefits to your employer — not “what’s right” or “what everyone else is making.” That is, what will you accomplish during the next year, in this new job, that’s worth 30%?
Map it out. Produce a mini business plan that will convince them you’ve figured this out and that it’ll pay off for them, too. In my experience, that’s the absolute best way to negotiate a raise and a new job. (For a detailed approach to using a business plan to get what you want, see How Can I Change Careers? — it’s not just for career changers. Read “Put a Free Sample in Your Resume,” pp. 23-26.)
Compared to haggling about salary surveys, you’re far better off talking about your company’s business, its challenges and problems, and about a specific plan you’ve devised that makes you worth a 30% boost. The critical advantage of this approach is that it stimulates a discussion with your employer about something you’re expert at — your job. There’s the negotiating edge that can make all the difference.
Plan the outcome
There’s no reasonable or bad response to their offer. There’s what will work, and there’s what you’re ready to do if you don’t get what you want — assuming what you want is really that important to you. You must be ready to control the negotiation and to plan the outcome.
So there are really two challenges for you here.
- First, can you demonstrate — hands down — that you’re worth what you’re asking for? (That is, worth it to the employer.)
- Second, are you ready to walk away from this employer if you can’t get what you think you’re worth?
I wish you the best, and I’d love to know what you decide to do and how it turns out. I hope my comments help you in some way.
(Since you haven’t yet discussed this promotion with your company, there’s a completely different strategy you can follow. It’s covered in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 7: Win The Salary Games (long before you negotiate an offer), in the section titled “The Pool-Man Strategy: How to ask for more money,” pp. 13-15.)
Is a 30% raise even possible? How would you advise this reader? What are the angles and gotchas in this situation?