Salary Story: I’ve Moved Companies 12 Times & Refuse To Be Judged For It

Illustrated by Monkia Jurczyk.
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
Been in the workforce for at least five years and interested in contributing your salary story? Submit your information here. Published stories receive £100.
Age: 37
Location: London/Surrey
Current industry and job title: Social strategist in scientific publishing
Current salary: £66,000
Number of years employed since school or university: 16
Starting salary: £18,000 in 2005
Biggest salary jump: £40,000 to £60,000
Biggest salary drop: £60,000 to £45,000
Biggest negotiation regret: I’ve dealt with a serious amount of imposter syndrome for a lot of my career and was terrified of pricing myself out of an opportunity or seeming greedy or unrealistic. Particularly in the early years of a career, you often don’t have a sense of how much a company needs you and how hard it is to find good talent. It can feel like the employer holds all the cards.
My biggest eye-opener was working agency-side and managing the billing for my clients: the discrepancy between what the client was paying for my time and what the agency was paying me was staggering. I wish I’d acknowledged my own value much earlier in my career and not worried so much that it made me seem immodest. It taught me to always keep track of the projects I’d delivered and the return they’d brought for the client or company: going after a pay rise isn’t just about time served, it’s about being recognised for the return you’ve delivered and being compensated accordingly, so go into negotiations armed with that information.
Best salary advice: I’d always advise not to be swayed by a generous salary or extensive benefits and prioritise going with your gut on things like opportunity for progression, how rewarding the work is and whether the people and environment are the right fit for you. I jumped for the money and perks once and ended up in such a horrific environment that I had to walk out after a couple of months with no job to go to. It took me nearly a year to recover my mental health.
Also, bear in mind if you’re using a recruiter that they can be great at having the awkward conversations with a prospective employer about feedback and salary but don’t let them convince you to accept an offer you’re not comfortable with. Recruiters will tell you they’re only thinking of you and looking out for your best interests but at the end of the day, they get paid by the employer, not the employee. You’re a commission to them and they want to get the sale through as quickly as possible.

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