New research from Arras People says that 46% of project managers can’t find a job that meets their salary expectations. The Project Management Confidence Index concludes that project managers don’t feel that the UK economy has bounced back sufficiently for them to move into a new job and that living standards are still pinched.
The flip side of this is that 55% of respondents said that they found it difficult to recruit project and programme managers and that it was hard to fill roles. The research authors speculate that this might be because recruiters are still thinking in terms of it being a buyer’s market: in other words, they can set the levels of remuneration and very high standards with regards to what they are looking for in a candidate. Many companies are still operating with restrictions on packages and salaries, so there seems to be a big disconnect between what hiring managers are prepared to offer and what candidates are prepared to take.

In the meantime, candidates aren’t moving roles for positions as it could be a risky move. Project practitioners aren’t predicting that salaries will increase, either. Only 12% believe that salaries will rise above the level of inflation with the vast majority of people (37%) reporting that they think pay levels will stay the same.
So if you are struggling with the choice between leaving a job for more money or staying put, what should you do?


In the Arras study, over a fifth of project practitioners report that they feel the market is buoyant and that opportunities will grow, so you may find that by waiting it out at your current position more (and better) opportunities are open to you in the future. And If you are particularly risk averse, staying in your current job is probably the best option! They may not be able to increase your salary but could you ask for the rest of your benefits package to be reviewed?
Make a list of all the good things about this job (the work, the people, the environment) and remind yourself regularly about the benefits of having this job. Keep an eye on internal and external job adverts as something might come up that would change your mind.

Stay and ask for a rise

Another alternative is to stay and ask your manager to give you a pay increase. If you go down this route you have to be very clear about the value you add to the business and your projects and ensure that you can prove why you are worth it. Think about:

  • Feedback from project stakeholders
  • Feedback from your project team
  • Your project results
  • Your last performance appraisal
  • The value you bring to the department
  • The market rates for someone in your position.

Do your homework to find out this last point, and if you find out that you are more than adequately paid for the work you do then you may have to rethink your request for an increase.


Finally, you also, of course, have the option to look for another job and leave. Set up systems to alert you to new job offers in your area of interest and make sure that your resume or CV is up to date. You’ll want to tailor it to each position but most of it will be pretty standard. Review your LinkedIn profile to make sure that it is completed as well, as there are plenty of employers who will want to check you out online before inviting you to an interview.
Ultimately, only you can decide what’s best for you and your career. Salary, remember is only one part of your entire remuneration package which could also include an allowance for a car or transport, health insurance, paid vacation time, childcare support and lots of other things. Consider the totality of the package you have and the package you could expect to receive at another employer before making any radical decisions.