Ask the Briefcase Coach: Salary Negotiation for an internal promotion

A software developer with 4 years of experience contacted me recently about with a question regarding salary negotiation for an internal promotion. 

Would love to know what you think about my response:

Internal promotion salary negotiations are a little tricky because at the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, you will still be working there. That being said, you are in a high demand field where there are few workers and the need is great. From years in HR, I know that most employers offer internal promotion salaries using a calculation. Many look at what you are currently making ( and where you are in the range– are you making 50% of the range for the job you are currently in?), your years of experience and where your new colleagues are in the new role in the range. 

For HR departments that base salaries off of calculations, internal salary negotiations aren’t too common. When I’ve seen them happen, sharp employees bring clear evidence as to why they need ___% more. For example:

If you are currently making $68,600 in your role as a software developer with no direct reports and 4 years of experience– that’s relatively average pay for an entry level developer in the state you are currently living in. If they offer you $72,400 — a 5.86% increase and you feel that you are being underpaid– you could consider the following:

1. Know the range of the position you are being considered for. This is important. If the range is $72,000-90,000 you will have a greater chance at being successful than if the range is 55,000-78,000.  

2. Make sure you are negotiating with the right person. Sometimes the manager who you will be reporting to has no say at all.  

3. Prepare for your negotiations with data on comparable salaries and wages. Glassdoor can be helpful– but industry/association data can be more powerful. 

4. Always show that you’re excited about the job and remain positive even if the base offer isn’t what you expected.

Show them you want the job by starting the negotiation with positive phrases like, “I’m excited to work with your team” or “I’m eager to start working and I know that I’d make a good contribution to the company.” Complaining about the salary right off the bat shows disregard for the opportunity they gave you, and that you’re difficult to work with.

Here is a script:

“Thank you for this opportunity. I’m excited to start working with your team, however, I hope we can explore the possibility of $77,000 (*a 13.2% increase from $68K). I think that amount better reflects the job scope of the position and my previous experience in this field.”

 “Your salary history shows this offer is already an increase for you”

“Yes, I made less at my last job. But the additional training and experienced I’ve gained during that period warrants an increase. What I’m paid right now is also below the market rate

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