Salary Story: I Make 74.5k From Switching Departments

Illustrated by Hannah Minn.
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: 35
Location: London
Current industry and job title: Civil service, grade 6
Current salary: £74,500
Number of years employed since school or university: 12
Starting salary: I joined the civil service as an executive officer in May 2009. I earned £19,650.
Biggest salary jump: In 2018 I had an increase of £12,809. I moved from one department where I was earning £50,061 to another department. The move was a promotion and I gained an additional allowance so my salary increased to £62,880.
Biggest salary drop: In 2019 I had a drop of £3,800. My salary dropped from £62,880 down to £59,081 when I lost my additional allowance (the allowance was only given while I was doing that particular role).
Biggest negotiation regret: I had three junior (executive officer) roles at the start of my career. I wish I had negotiated a higher salary, particularly for the third role as I was quite experienced by then. Alternatively I wish I had applied for promotion sooner. My early line managers were very old school though and thought that you should be at a grade for at least five years before progressing so I wasn't encouraged to go for a higher executive officer job.
On the plus side, those first three roles gave me a good grounding in all the basics of being a civil servant and I made some great friends in those teams.
Best salary advice: If you work in the civil service, pay scales are very transparent. Shop around on the civil service jobs website and look at which departments pay the best – once you 'bank' an increase in your base salary, you normally take that increase with you into your next role, even if it's in a different (lower paying) department. (This doesn't happen with allowances, which are normally role-specific.) It's always worth trying to negotiate on salary but it's very challenging to get anything above the minimum pay rise without changing roles so be prepared to be flexible and move around if you want to earn more. Working in different teams also builds your network and range of skills – no bad thing!

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