Unlocking higher salary potential: why changing jobs can boost your earnings

a man in a white shirt smiling about his salary increase
a man in a white shirt smiling about his salary increase

posted 28 May 24

Understanding the Impact of Job Changes on Salary

Traditionally, jobs were for the long haul. People stayed with one company for several years and built a career there, with wage increases to match their professional growth. Comparatively, millennials and Gen Z are changing attitudes towards job hopping for a higher salary, with both generations often choosing to change roles every few years.

CIPD’s Good Work Index 2023 found that 29% of workers who quit their job did so for better pay and conditions, whilst a further 34% said they would leave their current employer for more money.

What are the benefits of switching jobs for a pay increase? And is a move worth it?

What Salary can I Expect when Changing Jobs in the UK?

The latest ONS data from 2021 shows that employees who changed roles and industries had a 12.4% increase in earnings, on average. Those who moved to a different company but stayed in the same sector or specialism also saw an increase with an 8% rise in income.

Indeed, there can be advantages to moving jobs, but not always. ONS also found average hourly earnings were consistently higher for people who stayed in the same role. ONS suspects this is because of the skills and knowledge employees acquire over time, as well as the security long-term employment can bring.  

There is a clear difference between the ages of movers and stayers. Younger workers typically have lower incomes to begin with; therefore, receive higher salaries as they gain experience and move roles. Whereas job changers over 65 were the only age group to see a reduction in earnings in 2021 compared to the year before.

If you’ve been employed somewhere for several years, you may have worked your way up within the company. Moreover, your salary and benefits package might not be able to be matched or topped elsewhere.

Assessing Your Current Salary and Market Value

Before changing roles, it is definitely worth evaluating your existing situation to see whether job hopping would unlock more compensation or if it is best to stay in your current position. Consider whether your employer:

  • Conducts annual salary reviews
  • Has a career ladder tied to promotions and pay rises
  • Provides training and opportunities to develop your career
  • Offers incentives like bonuses
  • Offers valuable benefits on top of your wages

If you feel a move is right for you, compare your current pay, skills and experience to your ideal roles and/or industries. Use this to understand your market value (what a person with your knowledge and abilities could earn) so you’re maximising earnings through job changes.

Total Jobs has a salary calculator where you can input titles, skills or industries, plus location and salaries, to determine the average income for particular positions. Job boards and LinkedIn are also great places to research roles, specialisms and salaries.

If you work in the Sales, Accounting and Finance or Legal industries, our Professional Services Salary Guide 2023 details the typical wages you can expect for different roles, sectors and locations.

Leveraging Transferable Skills and Experience

When you’re reading job descriptions, assess how your capability and experience match up. It could be that your particular set of skills is highly desirable right now and, therefore, a move may mean an increase in salary.

Hiring managers and recruiters use keywords to find and narrow down candidates. List of the abilities and expertise needed for your perfect role and use these in your CV and applications, so that you stand out.

Tell companies how you meet their requirements and what transferable skills you have. Show why you’d be a great addition to their team by focusing on what you’ve accomplished in your previous jobs and what you could achieve for them.

Businesses are increasingly looking for candidates who have strong interpersonal skills, and our research found the top attributes employers want are:

  • Working effectively with others
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence

Therefore, it can be entirely worthwhile highlighting any soft skills you have in applications and interviews as well. It might just secure you a new job.

Negotiate after offer

Negotiate after offer

Want to learn more about negotiating salary and benefits once you have been offered a job? Check out our advice to help secure your next job offer.

Negotiating salary and benefits: a guide for job seekers

Are you on the hunt for a new role? At Search, we’re here to ensure your next step is a step up. Our recruitment consultants have insight into trends and local markets to help all job seekers determine what pay range they should aim for - your target salary. Sign up today for bespoke job search support.