I am curious about how to actually get to the point where you get a big salary increase. I'm far from that point in my life. I'm just curious as in my situation. The first job I found didn't pay as much as other jobs did for my career choice. (This is due to the fact that I have certifications, not a Bachelors/Master ect.). At most I can get a 10% yearly increase or 15% tops at the next job I start at. How do you go about actually getting that big break?

Edit just to Answer @Player :

I live in South Africa and I am a developer

I have a MCSD not a BCS or Higher.

Lets say the Average Entry Salary for a BCS Position over here is 20k I started on 12k -> 14k(Probation ended to permanent) -> 15.5k ( Asked for a increase) As an Example.


Thanks for all the answers. I think pretty much what I expected to be true is true. And I'll take the advice into consideration for the future

  • 1
    The question isn't clear. From your CURRENT employer do you get a yearly raise of 10%
    – Crazy Dino
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 12:21
  • Apologies I added the edit to the question, @CrazyDino Depending Im not sure if its a guarantee ive had to go ask the previous time. But just using it as a generalisation of you either get 10% a year increase or you find a job that offers more. As most of the offers ive had looking around always offer me 10-15% ontop of what I currently earn
    – Someguy
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 12:45
  • So what kind of a "big" increase do you expect? Are you sure your expectations of a target salary are realistic for your experience level? In other words, perhaps it's not you, perhaps nobody in your market actually earns what you're dreaming of.
    – TooTea
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:34
  • Well I have close friends who make about x2 what I do with the same expierence just different qualifications, Most high end developers make x10 what I make so yes im very sure @TooTea
    – Someguy
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 14:49
  • OK, then you're in a very different market that what I've ever seen. Here in Europe a factor of 10 is the difference between the janitor and the CEO, not between junior and senior devs.
    – TooTea
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 15:42

5 Answers 5


Look for a new job when you already have a job.

When talking to a company that is hiring, they will ask you what you are making in your current job.

If you tell them, their offer will be a function of that figure. (10% more than what you are currently making, for example.)

But, if you don't tell them, you risk being perceived as uncooperative.

You can phrase your answer this way: that you are looking for a change, but you are still reasonably happy where you are, so you will only consider switching for (insert desired salary).

You still risk being perceived as slightly uncooperative. But, if (desired salary) is not outside the bounds of what they're willing to pay, they don't really have a good reason to reject you simply because of that one piece of information. If they get stuck on the fact that you won't tell them what you currently make, even though you have been completely truthful about what you will in fact accept, you can take that as a signal about how they think about remuneration, thank them for their time, and move on to the next opening.

  • 2
    Exactly this - never mention or discuss your current salary with a new employer. It's none of their business, and only gives them a target to aim at. Tell them what you want to earn instead.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 16:02
  • Unless they require you to send them your last three payrolls before sending you the paperwork. Happened to me every time (EU) Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 11:39
  • 1
    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Well, no one said it was easy -- it can take a long time to find such a company, and that's one reason why you should already have a job when doing this. In my experience startups tend to be less likely to be hung up on salary history, but of course working for a startup comes with its own drawbacks.
    – B. Ithica
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 8:06
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ: In e.g. Germany your employer is not allowed to ask about your previous salary and salary negotiations should be over by the time you receive or send any paperworks. Probably still happens but this is not a general thing in Europe.
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:09
  • @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Where in the EU? Requesting past payslips is completely unheard of at least in the countries I'm familiar with (the Netherlands and Czechia).
    – TooTea
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:25

Usually significant salary increases can only be achieved by leaving one employer and joining another company, or from being promoted into a higher role.

I've never had any decent salary rise staying in the same role, not matter how much work I've put in.

  • Still if you think you're doing a good job and the company is playing it fair, it can be achieved... It only happened to me only once though, you're right that in most occasions when actual raise was proposed (and not only promises) responding to such a request from me, it looked like a joke.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 8:44

Compensation in most cases is rather simple. Most larger companies (at least in the US) use salary bands. These determine the market rate of a certain job description/grades and is based on actual salary survey that's done by professional clearinghouses (such as Radford). These bands are well established for both individual contributor and managers up to the Senior Director/VP level. They have a "gaussian" shape, i.e. there is a median and a few percentiles around it (10%,25%, 75%, 90%)

For example, for "Software Engineers" it starts at "SW Engineer I" (fresh out of school with a Bachelor, $70k) to "SW Engineer V" (seasoned industry veteran with 15+ years, $155k). A SW Engineer director sits at around $195k. These are all US numbers. They are available for other countries too, but I didn't find anything for South Africa.

There are three type of movements:

  1. The band itself moves. That's either through cost-of-living adjustment and/or supply and demand changes. Hot commodities get more expensive and obsolete jobs get cheaper.
  2. You move inside the band: That's primarily performance related, if you do well against the expectations for your job grade you will sit above the mean of the band. There is a cap to this, it's exceedingly rare to get paid more than the 75% or even 90% percentile of your band
  3. You jump bands. That's a "real" promotion. So you go from a Engineer III to and Engineer IV or from Senior Manager to a Director not ONLY in title but in actual HR salary classification. That's typically where the biggest jumps happen.

IMO, the system is not particularly fair as any companies compare salaries behind your back and you don't have access to the same level of information. However, websites like salary.com are a good resource to play around with.

In any case, I'm guessing that 80% of all corporate salaries sit inside the 10%/90% range of their salary bands for their job grade, regardless of whether they are officially using salary bands or not. There are always exceptions for outstanding performance, being in super critical role, promotions lagging behind, etc. but the majority works this way.

  • There's one point worth highlighting: The difference between a rookie and a seasoned pro is just a factor of 2 or 3. That's pretty consistent with OP's 10% a year over 15 years.
    – TooTea
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:32

There are a few ways.

You can job search and focus on negotiating higher pay. There is no reason you cannot get more than 15%. It just depends on the market.

Or you can make yourself indispensable to the point where you have the leverage at your current position to basically demand a big increase. I've had a 30% increase once without even changing roles.

You can invest in yourself and gain more certifications or even a degree outside work hours. Some companies will even pay for your certs and give you time off to achieve them.

Another way is to move to where the market is much better for some reason such as scarcity of human resources.


I am from India and a software developer. A common way I have seen people get significant jump is by making back to back jumps. I have seen a lot of people do that but you need to be great at your work and confident.

You currently work @10k. Switch to company A and earn 11.5k Don't stop looking while in notice period and get offer from B ask them to improve on 11.5 maybe they will offer you 11.7, join B and keep on looking. In a month or so you might get offer from C. And ask them to offer 15% on 11.7. you get 13.5. that's a good 35% jump. Maybe do that 1 more time and you have a 50% jump in 6 months

This again means you are good that a company is willing to pay you and confident enough to negotiate. This continuous switch may look bad in your resume, you can maybe just put a gap. I feel if you stay at final company for long enough a gap of 3-4 months might not matter in 5-6 years.

  • 1
    If you jump to a new company after a month and do that several times, eventually your resume is going to reveal you as a jobhopper, and no one will want to hire you, because they know they would not even get you fully trained before you leave.
    – shoover
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 16:20
  • I don't understand the logic of this — If you can't put companies A/B/C down on your CV because you ran out on them so quickly, presumably you're giving company D a reference from the original place where you were on 10K. So, if they want proof of former salary, the only thing you can show them is the 10K; if they don't want proof of former salary, why not just apply to them directly? Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 17:59
  • @shoover, you're assuming beggars can afford to be choosers. Most hiring managers need bums on seats, the pittance they are paying means they don't have a choice of faultless candidates, and the only real leverage they have with the scrooges in the boardroom to get salaries put up to market levels, is to show that dozens of candidates have already come and gone.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 19:58

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