Playing Your Cards Right: How Gathering Multiple Offers Can Help You Get a Higher Salary When Switching Jobs

Switching jobs can be an exciting opportunity for workers to increase their earnings, but how large a wage bump you get depends on multiple factors. Negotiating your job offer is often cited as the way to increase your salary, but ZipRecruiter economists have found the story is more complicated. It is not negotiating alone that gets you higher wages—rather, it is negotiating with multiple job offers in hand.

According to data from the latest ZipRecruiter Survey of New Hires, 70% of recent job switchers increased their pay when they changed jobs. Among the 70% of job switchers who increased their pay, the average pay increase was 25%. Those who reported negotiating did not receive significantly higher wage increases than those who did not. But those who negotiated and had multiple job offers received significantly larger wage gains—a 2.3 percentage point (ppt) boost, on average, to be precise. In addition to having multiple offers, having a college degree, being under the age of 55, and having more prior work experience were also associated with larger wage increases for job switchers. 

College degree holders were able to get an additional 3.3 ppt boost, compared to non-degree holders. Workers under the age of 25 got the largest wage increases, in percentage terms, with prime-age workers receiving about 3-5 ppts less, and workers over age 55 receiving about 10 ppts less. That is partly because younger workers tend to increase their earnings relatively quickly at the start of their careers, as they gain experience, whereas older workers often choose to move into lower-paying jobs that are less demanding and that offer greater flexibility and work-life balance. 

While older workers may generally see smaller wage increases, all else equal, their wealth of experience and expertise can still be a valuable asset in negotiating a competitive salary. Having more work experience makes a small but positive difference. Job switchers can expect to receive wage increases 0.2 ppts larger for each year of professional experience they have.

Among the recent job switchers surveyed by ZipRecruiter, women were about half as likely as men to report negotiating their job offers with only 28% of women doing so compared to 52% of men. However, the additional wage boost from negotiating did not depend on gender. In the survey sample, women and men within the same occupations, and with similar educational and professional backgrounds, received similar wage increases when they negotiated and had multiple offers.

The lesson for job seekers? No matter how much education you have, your age, or your gender, you have a strong chance of getting a bigger pay bump the next time you switch jobs if you gather competing job offers and leverage them in your salary negotiations. Why? While the survey didn’t explore the mechanisms through which having multiple offers raises pay, the ZipRecruiter team has a couple of theories. Having alternatives can boost your confidence in negotiations, and signal to employers that you are in high demand. It can also help you know your worth and benchmark your salary expectations more appropriately. 

No matter how many offers you have, do your homework before any salary negotiation by referring to ZipRecruiter salary pages for information about the typical distribution of pay for the relevant role and location. But nothing is quite as compelling or empowering as having a concrete offer. In a tight labor market where 62% of the recent hires surveyed by ZipRecruiter had multiple offers when they switched jobs, employers often had little choice but to outdo a competitor’s offer to attract talent.

Methodology:

The ZipRecruiter Survey of New Hires is a survey fielded to a nationally representative online panel administered by Qualtrics between the 10th and 16th of the second month of every quarter. The sample consists of more than 2,000 adults who reside in the U.S., who are currently employed, and who began their current jobs within the past six months. It excludes self-employed workers. 

This study used data from the 2022 Q4 and 2023 Q1 waves of the survey. A pooled OLS model was used to explore the factors influencing the size of wage gains received by job switchers. The independent variables of interest were gender, industry/occupational group, negotiating an offer, age group, union membership, education, and total years of work experience, as well as various interactions between them. 

Written by

Sinem Buber is an economist at ZipRecruiter with a focus on US labor market insights and trends. Previously, she worked at ADP Research Institute where she published the ADP National Employment Report. She holds a PhD in Economics from The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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