The Salary Debacle on Re-Entry to the Job Market

The Salary Debacle on Re-Entry to the Job Market

You’ve applied for a job and received the good news that the company wants to discuss your salary… that's right, they’re going to make you an offer. Your excitement is palpable: all the waiting and anxiety of the interview process is almost over.


There is one last hurdle to clear: the offer itself.

If you’ve been out of the workplace for any length of time you will be able to relate to the feeling of not knowing what to peg your salary expectations to: your last pay cheque? Inflation?  Your qualification and experience?

All of the above are correct. And more. Let’s unpack what to take into account when considering your salary expectations on re-entry into the workplace, and why.

There’s more to a salary than the pay cheque

First off, on re-entry into the job market it’s important to evaluate why you’re going back to work. Of course money will always be a factor, everybody looks forward to that text message at the end of the month, but there are other things to consider:

  • Is the company purpose-driven: And does the company’s purpose align with your own? This will contribute greatly to your sense of fulfilment at work.
  • Is there a healthy office culture: Take a look at the company culture, is it a healthy and supportive environment with minimal office politics and low staff turnover? Working in an unhealthy work environment can not only affect your work productivity but can have a knock-on effect on your home life.
  • Scope for career and personal growth: If your career path is clearly attainable within the company, there is less disruption for you in years to come with job hopping from company to company.
  • The company’s policy on gender and cultural diversity: The benefits of working in a diverse environment are well documented.
  • Other benefits: Take into account other benefits including Medical Aid and Provident Fund contributions.

All these factors should be considered when calculating your package, as they can add value above and beyond the money at the end of the month.

Don’t just ask for money

When it comes to negotiating your salary, remember to look at your package holistically. As well as the above-mentioned considerations, there are many other things worth discussing with the employer if they cannot offer you more money. Consider the following:

  • Flexibility, such as remote work: Remote work was forced on us all not too long ago, but for many moms integrating family and work commitments, it is a real perk.
  • Extra leave days:  A bit of extra leave doesn’t come at much cost to the employer, but will make a significant difference to you as a working mom when it comes to juggling the school holidays.
  • Training or mentoring programmes on offer: Discover whether there will be the opportunity to improve or upskill your offering.
  • A clear growth path in the job: Ask yourself if you see the opportunity for long term growth within the company.

The main thing to remember is that there are many things besides money to negotiate with when agreeing your pay package.

Shift your career, shift your salary expectations

If you’re returning to the workplace after a significant amount of time has passed, there is a chance the kind of job you’re applying for may be different to the kind of roles you’ve previously held. As time passes, your life changes and perhaps so has your approach to work. Maybe a sprint up the corporate ladder holds little or no appeal for you anymore. Instead, your main priority could be healthy work-life integration, and as such you may turn to jobs which are less demanding on your time, yet more fulfilling for your soul.

A role at an NGO for example, where you feel you are adding real value and using a different set of skills, is highly rewarding but realistically doesn’t pay as well as the big corporate package you left behind. In a situation like this, weigh up the benefits of the job versus the package offered and decide if it meets all your needs, monetary and other

Once you decide what your job is worth to you, it’s that much easier to set your salary expectations on re-entry into the workplace. Weighing up the pros and cons of the role becomes less about the money and more about your work-life integration as a whole.

We trust that this article gives you more to think about when it comes to deciding on a package and enables you to be confident in negotiating the salary debacle when re-entering the job market.

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