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How to Negotiate a Lateral Move Salary

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When making a lateral move either within the same company or with a different organization, you want more than just a new job – you also want to benefit financially. Negotiating a salary for a move that's not a promotion isn't easy because your employer may assume you'll make a lateral move in pay as well as responsibilities. However, coming to the table armed with some ammunition can help your case.

Why Make a Lateral Move

Making a lateral job move doesn't mean you're treading water in your career. Departments and companies have different organizational structures, and some have more promotion opportunities than others. Moving into a position with the same amount of responsibility in a department or business offering more potential to move up might help you climb the ladder faster. You also learn new skills when you change positions, which makes you more marketable when seeking your next job or promotion. Lateral moves take you away from your existing co-workers and management – at least immediate management, if you're staying with the same company – allowing you to shine in front of a new crowd as you learn from their experiences.

What You Bring

When negotiating your new salary, come prepared with a list of your accomplishments in your current position and an action plan for the new position. Note any ways in which you generated revenue for the company, saved money, improved efficiency or increased productivity for yourself or other members of your department. List ideas on how you can apply that same type of critical thinking to the new position, clarifying that you must be in the position to understand it fully and fill in the details of your action plan. Having this list readily available gives you more leverage when negotiating a higher salary for a lateral move.

Make a Business Case

Just because you want an increase in pay with your new position, doesn't mean you will get it. Even if the hiring manager agrees that you deserve more than what you are currently getting, she will have to justify the additional costs to her superiors. The most effective way to make a case for your increase is to make a case for the company: showing your manager how the company will reduce its costs or increase its revenue based on the move.

For example, if your new position is in a new location, a higher cost of living in the region may mean the company would have to pay more, regardless of who gets the position – you or a new hire. The same case could be made if the position is in a remote location and a higher income would be necessary to attract someone with the required skills.

If the position is in the same location with the same company, perhaps there is someone who could take over your current position with less training costs than training someone for the position you're vying for.

Finally, if you are a valued employee and would be able to make more money somewhere else, the company may be willing to pay you more rather than risk losing you. If you have had job offers, for example, mentioning this may be enough to shift the company's balance sheet in your favor.

Base Salary on Performance

When the hiring manager seems hesitant to agree to your desired salary, offer small steps up over the course of several months or the next year based on your performance in the new position. For example, set clear performance benchmarks for three months, six months and one year, then decide on how much your salary would increase each time when you meet the benchmarks. This reassures the manager you're dedicated to success and feel confident you're worth the money you're asking for. You have to wait a bit longer for the money you want, but you have clear expectations of what you must do to earn the raises.


Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

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