Our department is expanding and I was encouraged to apply for a new team lead position, which I was hinted as the primary (perhaps even the sole?) candidate for.

We have had an informal interview where we talked about my competencies, ambitions, potential areas for growth, risks and opportunities etc. They reiterated and detailed the expectations and increased/changed responsibilities it would entail for me.

So far, so good... However, it appears that the bump in salary is rather minuscule (got no specifics but based on my conversations with others in the company, I expect it will land around 5%). We've put the specifics aside for the time being as before an offer is put on the table in front of me, there are some paperwork that needs to be cleared (both the HR and the trade union needs to approve).

I am thinking if I can negotiate/reason a bit around that, I realise I won't get a 25-30% increase, as it does not appear to be against the company policy for internal hires. (I hear this is common for large multinational companies)

However, considering that it would be MAJOR headache for them to find another person with my skillset (PhD + relevant work experience) and insight into exactly what we do, with the ambitious expectations that the dept has set out for this year. Thus, I would think they would probably not make a hassle out of a couple of hundred bucks more per month.

What are some good arguments to put forth to make sure I get the best deal I can possibly get, without antagonising the dept head from day 1?

Alternatively, if a more satisfactory salary increase is not an option, what alternatives can I put on the table that might be more amenable?

  • 2
    " I expect it will land around 5%" That barely covers inflation, what you are being offered may be a "promotion" in title, but definitely not in pay!
    – sf02
    Feb 7, 2022 at 14:16
  • @sf02 true, there is separate yearly inflation adjustment for salaries. I will certainly make sure to check that it's also included. This question was primarily aiming at going from one salary level to the next. Thanks for clarifying that point
    – posdef
    Feb 7, 2022 at 14:21
  • If you're too afraid to antagonize your dept head, you've already lost this negotiation before it even started. Very few arguments in this world are going to work unless you have the inner confidence to back them up. And confidence is not something you can fake. Confidence only comes from knowing that even if this negotiation fails, you still have options. In other words, you should be applying to other companies to know what your true value is on the open market. Once you're less worried about seeking the approval of your dept head, that's when the company will start taking you seriously. Feb 7, 2022 at 19:04
  • @StephanBranczyk It's not about being afraid. I think you are making generalisations without much data to go on, or maybe projecting from own prior experience. My comment about avoiding to antagonise is based on the fact that they have been very polite and understanding so far, for various different reasons. I have no illusions that I will work there for all eternity but when I do leave, it would ideally be without burning the bridges. There might be numerous reasons why would not be immediately ready to switch jobs: financially, socially, geographically, family-wise considerations etc..
    – posdef
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:20
  • 1
    Can you please clarify if IC -> lead is considered "promotion" by your organization? For manual labor work "lead" likely brings more money to a company but moving an IC from a position that requires PhD to become a manager could very well give negative for a company (at least in short term). Also value of technical PhD for manager position is very likely much lower that the same PhD for IC position (would PhD in chemistry help one to mentor or fire someone? - I seriously doubt). Feb 8, 2022 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


You don't know if hiring someone else appropriate is hard or not. Maybe they have someone else they are interviewing right now. And even if not, they could choose to tell that to you just to undermine your negotiation position. Because of that I wouldn't base my negotiation on that.

First, determine what you would see as an acceptable salary. Keep in mind that the new role probably brings a lot of added stress and time spent in the office. Factor that in.

I would base my salary demands on the measurable impact on me, and the increased worth I can bring to the company in the new role. How I am the ideal fit for that position. There you mention also stuff like "I know the team", "I don't need to be told about the company culture", which translates to "Promoting me is cheaper than bringing someone else in".

  • Outside of rare exceptions (specific fields like lawyers and doctors), most people can simply be trained to do a job, it only requires time and money to train an employee to do the job. In order to understand if asking for a 20% raise is reasonable, you must first at a high level, estimate the opportunity cost (time and money) for your employer to bring somebody new in to do that function. So I would agree, determine if the pay for this job particular position, is at or above market norms and make a decision based of that.
    – Donald
    Feb 7, 2022 at 21:38
  • @Donald (and also @jwsc) - I do research in a highly specialised field, in a corporate setting. While it is true that anyone can learn to do what I do and know now, it would be very expensive and timely to get a random person off the streets. Even with a more relevant educational background, it is not trivial (my own position was open for more than a year before I saw and applied for it)
    – posdef
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:28

Be very frank and truthful about your thoughts: If you think you are being/ going to be underpaid, it's only a matter of time before you lose motivation and focus, and eventually end up in a situation where you need to find a new job.

I suggest you have a talk with your manager / HR about the changes, including the payout. In case you feel the new set of responsibilities demand a pay increase of 20% - go ask for that. At best, they'll agree, at worst - they'll decline and you will have an option to choose whether to accept the additional responsibilities or not.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .