Getting the right salary for your next civilian job role can be difficult, but there are practical steps you can take.
Nick Everard, a former Army officer and Managing Director of J1 Consulting, and Fiona Jackson, an OA Career Consultant, share their advice.
More than salary
Before negotiating the salary for your new job, understand the full pay package being offered. In addition to the salary, your pay package can include pension, company benefits, equity and bonuses. You can research what the pay package could be in other industries by visiting The Job Crowd and Glass Door. You can then compare this with your full military pay package, using the MOD Benefits Calculator.
Play the long game
The type of organisation you work for can affect the salary for the same job role. Smaller organisations are more likely to offer a lower salary if newly formed or a higher one if a successful business.
Focus less on the starting salary and more on potential career progression. If the organisation offers good prospects, and you positively contribute to the company, then you could be promoted soon with an increased salary. A larger organisation is likely to offer better career opportunities. However, do not expect your good work to be noticed and rewarded; you will still need to be assertive and demonstrate your achievements.
Consider working for a recognised larger brand, because it is easier to then transfer to a smaller organisation. You may find it harder to move from a small organisation to a larger one, which could impact your longer term earnings.
When to negotiate
Salaries are unlikely to be mentioned in the first interview, because this is more about assessing your suitability for the role. Usually it is best to wait until a job offer is made, which is done either verbally or through an agency. Do not accept the first pay offer unless you are confident it is right for you.
However, if you apply for a job with an advertised salary bracket, you are tacitly accepting this offered range. You may be able to negotiate to the higher end of the pay bracket, but it would be unrealistic to demand considerably more. You may find the employer then retracts the job offer.
Once you have confirmed the job, including salary, an offer letter will be sent, followed by a contract. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification on terms and conditions. You are not committed to the job until the contracts are signed.
The right tone
Be confident in your negotiations, but not demanding. Phrases like “could we increase the salary to…” are better than “I need a minimum of…” Give yourself a line of retreat.
You may earn less
In the Armed Forces your salary was based on seniority and experience, but that is in the past. Why would a private company pay you the same salary when you lack commercial and/or sector experience? Avoid pricing yourself out of a job. It is better to accept a lower salary and agree a six month pay review.
For your first role you are unlikely to be offered the top amount of the salary bracket. Employers usually like to have room to give a pay rise within a role, after you have proven yourself.
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About Nick Everard
Nick Everard was an Army officer for 22 years, leaving in 1999 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Lancers. He then worked in the private sector, including as Managing Director within a FTSE 100 Group and Board Director of a successfully sold, privately owned business. Nick is now the co-founder and Managing Director of J1 Consulting, a recruitment agency focussed on sourcing executives and managers.
About Fiona Jackson
Fiona completed an eight year Short Service Commission with the Royal Army Education Corps, followed by three years in the Territorial Army as an intelligence officer with the Royal Artillery. She then worked in HR for the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, including for John Lewis. Fiona joined the OA in November 2010.
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