In the August 8, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader becomes disgruntled upon learning a co-worker at the same job gets more pay.


more pay

I recently started a new job, and there is one other person here who does what I do. He was hired about six months before me. While he was helping me get settled, he showed me his annual benefits enrollment form as an example. It had his salary pasted all over it, and I was dismayed to find out that he makes 30% more than I do.

We have the same job, the same responsibilities, and my initial assessment is that my skills and background are stronger than his. (He did have a contracting relationship with the company for some time before he was hired.)

It’s been very demoralizing to learn this so soon after starting this job, which is otherwise a good situation for me. Is there any way to handle this, besides going out and finding another job? It’s hard to be happy and effective at work knowing someone else who does the same things you do earns so much more. Thanks!

Nick’s Reply

There’s a parable in the Bible that’s useful here. Two farm hands hoeing a row of beans stop for a break. Abe mutters, “I can’t believe I work this hard for $5 an hour.” Isaac is stunned. “$5 an hour? I get only $3 an hour!”

Later, Isaac goes to the boss. “How come you pay Abe more than you pay me?” The boss arches an eyebrow. “What did I offer you to do this job?” Isaac answers, “$3 an hour.” The boss leans toward him a little closer. “What do I pay you to do this job?” Isaac shrugs his shoulders, “$3 an hour.”

“So, I’m a man of my word,” says the boss.

Why more pay?

You have no idea why the boss pays your buddy more than he pays you. But there may be many reasons. For example:

  • Your buddy may have been hired on a career track you’re not aware of and he may have skills you don’t have that the boss will need later.
  • Your buddy may have been better at negotiating his deal than you were. (Need to beef up your negotiating skills? Here’s some help.)
  • Maybe the company can’t afford to pay more now.
  • Or, it may be easier to find workers today than it was six months ago.

The list of possibilities goes on. The point is, you accepted a certain deal, and your boss is honoring it. Don’t leap to a conclusion about this.

Justify more pay

My guess is your boss isn’t going to pay you more just because you want more. You’re going to have to justify your request, and it won’t help to compare yourself to someone else. Demonstrate your own value. (See Stand Out: How to be the profitable hire.)

When the time comes for your first performance and salary review, I suggest you prepare for it like this:

  • Outline what you think will be the three biggest challenges, problems, hurdles or objectives in your job next year.
  • Then, list three things you will do to tackle them. This should include significant detail, but don’t overdo it.
  • Finally, explain how your approach to doing the work will be profitable (or beneficial) to the company.

This approach will help you justify your value — and the extra money you want — to your boss.

What’s fair depends on the facts

In the meantime, consider how presumptuous it would be to ask your boss for more pay, right after you accepted the deal you did. I’m not going to get into the ethics of hiring the exact same kinds of people for the exact same kinds of jobs at different rates of pay, because I have no idea whether everything is equal. Do you?

Be careful: Value isn’t as obvious as you might think. Your co-worker may be more valuable to your employer than you are. While you may be getting treated unfairly, you just as well may not have all the facts to make that judgment.

(My good buddy Suzanne Lucas, aka The EvilHRLady, offers some strong advice about equal pay practices in 5 Ways Smart People Are Solving Income Inequality.)

You made the deal

I believe employers should pay equitably and people should be paid what they’re worth — but value is relative depending on the needs of the employer. You may indeed be worth more than you’re being paid, but you made the deal.

Could you have made a case for more pay? If yes, then this is on you. But consider that negotiations will come around again at review time. I suggest that you focus on the issues we’ve discussed — issues that might not seem so obvious — and that you respect the deal you made until the time is right to renegotiate it. It doesn’t sound like the salary was unsatisfactory when you accepted it. (Needless to say, you always have the option to quit.)

My advice is to take this one step at a time, and be careful not to disturb your good relationship with your co-worker. He’s hardly to blame. Focus on what the boss knows about your value, and make it your job to clarify that.

Finally, my apologies to the Bible for mangling a good parable.

(Ever wonder how asking for a promotion and a raise are similar to interviewing for a new job or a new career? The challenge is almost exactly the same — it’s about how to deliver more value to get more money and a better position. To learn more about how to make yourself stand out in front of your manager — or the boss you want to work for — check out How Can I Change Careers?)

Should you suck it up when you accept a deal that suddenly appears less desirable? For how long? And, how can you fix it? If you’ve been in this situation before, tell us how you handled it. What can this reader do now?

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  1. I’m still amazed employers think pay levels will remain confidential and no employee will ever learn how much their peers are earning for comparable work. So, this employer is either similarly stupid-foolish in paying such a large difference in salaries for the same position or else has what is believed to be a good reason for doing so. A 30% pay difference is far more than I’ve seen at most jobs below executive levels or in sales, even comparing the high end and low end of a salary range for a specific job.

    The person asking the question mentioned that the other person had a long contracting relationship with the company before he/she started as a regular employee. Could be that the long period of work as a contractor caused the company to hire him/her in at a higher job classification (if there is a multiple level classification structure for the same job, which I’ve seen for many clerical and professional jobs). It could also be that during the contracting period, the person was able to learn a lot about the company’s pay structure and was thus in a better position to negotiate a salary than the questioner who was a new hire from outside. It could also be that the questioner is being a bit too generous with the estimate of his/her relative strength of skills and background.

    I wonder whether the questioner asked about the max and min pay levels and promotional/advancement opportunities for the job when it was offered? To me that would be a normal question to ask. It would also be a red flag about the company, if they would not disclose it.

    As you said, Nick, the deal was made and the questioner should live up to it, focusing instead on building a performance and contribution reputation that justifies negotiating for substantially more money at the next pay review date, either by a raise in pay for the current grade or promotion to a higher grade. The suggestions you gave for putting together a business case to justify the raise were on target.

    All that said, I can understand from first hand experience what the questioner is going through emotionally and with a drop off in morale. I was hired to head a new service area for the local office of a consulting company. When the company offered me the position, I understood that I would start as an Assistant Director, rather than Director, for the practice and at a lower salary than had been indicated when the company contacted me about applying for the job. I understood that was a matter of getting the practice started and I would be in line for a substantial increase if the practice was successfully established. I had no problem with that initially. What the executives of the company forgot was that, as Director of the Practice, I was responsible for all proposals, including the proposed fee rates for each level of consultant assigned to a project. Because the fee schedule was based on a multiple of base pay + an employee benefits percentage, I could estimate the salary range of every consulting level in the office. I was surprised to learn that not only was my salary at the low end of the level I had been hired in at, it was also lower than the salary range for consultants two grade levels below the one I was hired in at. A lot of the trust I had placed in the company’s management went out the window when I found out they had outright lied to me about the compensation. But like your advice to the questioner, I felt the only credible way that I could handle things for my own professional reputation was to do the job as effectively as possible and position myself for a serious salary discussion at the next salary review. Fortunately, I liked the work, liked working with most of my peers and staff, and I could live comfortably on the salary I had accepted. Unfortunately, the company changed management before the end of the business development period we had agreed for the new service area. The new management decided that the service area would not be part of the firm’s core business and discontinued the service area completely, including revoking a promotion I had been notified of just a week prior and instead terminating my job. I don’t regret my decision to put off pressing early for higher salary and instead working to justify a future performance based increase. However, it did reinforced my view that for many companies loyalty is a one-way street that does not flow in the direction of the employees and some hiring managers have absolutely no qualms about telling current and future employees direct lies.

    • As Richard so eloquently stated above:

      The writer’s coworker had a previous contractual relationship with the employer prior to coming on full time.

      As an employer, I look for these opportunities to hire trained personnel. The coworker would have been familiar with the line of business, the company and existing employees and could be expected to come up to speed quickly. In other words, the coworker was a known entity.

      The writer, however, was not.

      Hiring is always a crap shoot. An employer doesn’t always know what they’ve got until the new hire is on board and settled into the position. There’s a reason for 90 day “probationary” periods for new hires.

      Based on the facts given, I can understand the salary differences.

      I would also advise the writer against “stirring the pot.” You got the deal you asked for, now live up to your end of the bargain. Go out and prove you’re worth more money and, at the next salary review, reasonably present your supervisor with a “track record” of your accomplishments and negotiate a pay raise. But unless you’re a true “rock star,” don’t expect to get the full 30%.

      • JohnBoyNC is Spot On IMO.

        There are lots of variables that are taken into account when making a hiring decision. The disgruntled employee speaks nothing about the career/work history comparison between the two. A degree is nice, but applicable and extensive work history is more valuable. I know this first hand…in dealing with an unqualified hire with a Masters degree, by the prior Director. The guy was nothing but a headache. My favorite example, the guy left work around 10:30 am to go to the movies with his wife and two year old daugher…less than 3 weeks after he started in our office. He only told a co-worker and did not clear it in advance with the Director who was out of the office that day or myself. His excuse was there was no one else in the office, but I walked right past him when he was telling the other co-worker.

        The disgruntled employee should focus on doing his/her job and not keep looking over the fence at what other people are making, have or are doing ELSE he should go start his own business and run it as he sees fit.

      • “There’s a reason for 90 day “probationary” periods for new hires.”
        …and good reason it’s a FULL YEAR for airline pilots. And yes, I lived it. A unique and effective way to leave the driftwood behind.

        “Go out and prove you’re worth more money”
        I agree.
        Despite that common sense, in the U.S. we now have a generation of workers that grew up receiving a trophy for just showing up and have clutched onto that philosophy and dragged it into the work place. “Proving” their worth is a foreign concept to a bunch of them.

        “…unless you’re a true “rock star,” don’t expect to get the full 30%.”
        Thus my previous references (in many blog postings) about A-players that leave well before the ship sinks, follow Nick’s advice about NOT revealing their true comp package, have the guts to interview the interviewer about the TRUE fit of any opportunity, and only move forward for situations that allow them to do their best work.

        Wash, rinse, repeat. Yet we’ll continue to get bitter responses from the status quo crowd who can only muster putting their hand out yet expect $$$ to drop into their palm.

    • @Richard A: You’ve raised a lot of very important points about a touchy, emotional, difficult topic. Difficult because the best strategy for dealing with such a pay disparity requires having all the facts, which are not easy to obtain by a newbie employee.

      The first thing I want to say is, the OP is probably — probably — screwed. Employers very rarely give large salary increases to anyone. In other words, once you’re pegged at salary $X, you’re likely to see either no raises or 2-5% at best. (This is why I argue so strenuously all the time against disclosing salary history when being interviewed.) The purpose of my advice was to help the OP see the issues, not to maximize salary. Hope you didn’t miss my parenthetical “you can always quit.” Unfortunately, that may be the smartest long-term option.

      Having said that…

      1. There really is no way to know why the other employee is paid so much more, so there’s no way to justify more money using the other person’s salary as a basis for the argument. So don’t go there. The OP needs to focus on understanding, stating, and discussing the employer’s objectives for the job — and then clearly demonstrating how the OP will meet those challenges. The tougher part is putting a number on that, and I think the only way to try this is through an open, frank discussion.

      2. Once you’ve accepted a salary offer and signed the on-boarding papers, you’re done negotiating until review time. You’ve made a choice. Either live with it or quit. If you’re going to live with it, save your sanity by trying to understand why the pay is what it is. “Changing it” isn’t an option a week after you started the job.

      3. Doing what I suggested — making the business case for more salary later — is not only difficult, it flies in the face of the fact that most employers in most cases will not grant large salary increases to existing employees. This is critical. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. My advice: If you’re going to stay, plan on spending the next 6-12 months repeatedly demonstrating your greater worth. Nothing juices a negotiation 12 months from now like 12 months’ worth of proof your value — repeated, documented, objectively measured proof.

      4. I think you (Richard A) now realize your employer screwed you from the moment the shifted from the job/salary you applied for, to the lower-paying, lower-level job. It seems it was a bait and switch. An important lesson to learn. In the throes of “wanting to get a job,” people understandably are all too willing to compromise. They rationalize that they’ll be able to “get more money” later, “when the company sees what I can do.” Sorry, that’s very unlikely. Nonetheless, you made hay with this job — you learned a lot, developed good relationships, and had a good if not great salary. I admire that. And you learned a lot :-). Not everyone does.

      It’s important to step back during the emotionally charged experience of nailing down a job offer. Ask what you’re really getting into, and also ask, am I selling myself a bill of goods harder than the employer is? A bit of cynicism is a good tonic for over-exuberance at job offer time.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and best wishes on your next gig!

      • “In other words, once you’re pegged at salary $X, you’re likely to see either no raises or 2-5% at best.”

        I’ve read, somewhere (sorry, my Google Fu ain’t working at the moment), that the best way to increase your salary quickly is to switch jobs. I’ve seen guesstimates that if you change every two years, after a couple of iterations, you’ve doubled your salary, whereas if you stayed still, you’d be at a disadvantage.

        And companies wonder why they have employee retention problems…

        • …and those “guesstimates” have proven true over the decades.

          Yes indeed, a rolling stone gathers no moss. A-players “get it” while the “lifers” and “gimme-a-pay-check” types end up with stagnant careers and low pay to go with it. These same underachievers then demand to be paid on par with top talent. LOL!

          As stated in these forums many, many times before, “companies wonder why they have employee retention problems…” Yep, they never admit to destroying the company from the inside out yet collect their bonuses without question.

          It’s quite simple…

          If you’re an A-player, how long would YOU stay at a company that rewards sub-par performance?? Due to incompetent management, this is why headhunters will continue to thrive – in ANY industry.

          • Chris S, I am unimpressed with most of these job hoppers, though I understand why they do it. A person is not an A-player just because they hop, nor subpar because they work at a job for over a year or 2. In fact, many get out before they get fired, have bad work ethics, or attendance issues. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and it is hard to excel when you are always new. Also, companies don’t reward subpar performance — they just don’t reward performance, period. THAT is the issue. They should allow A-players big bumps up if warranted, instead of always anchoring them to their initial low pay. Yes, managers tend to suck and they need to broaden their viewpoints and stop being petty and myopic.

            • “Also, companies don’t reward subpar performance — they just don’t reward performance, period. THAT is the issue.”

              Gee, “THAT” issue doesn’t even begin to peel back the myriad of layers of problems at many companies today. You want to argue with Nick about the King of all subpar performers in many companies – HR!?! Companies shell out tons of cash to reward subpar performance every day. Yep, that includes millions funneled to job boards and other useless pursuits. Have you not read the last bunch of Nick’s blogs on this very fact???

              “I am unimpressed with most of these job hoppers, though I understand why they do it.”

              If you “…understand why they do it” you wouldn’t call them “job hoppers.” Unlike the majority of sheeple workers, A-players see opportunity and go after it – leaving those with your declared “…bad work ethics, or attendance issues” in the dust to drag each other down in their own misery.

              With all this wasted money on subpar performance of sheeple workers that worship tenure (union theory) at their current dictorial employer, is it any wonder A-players “job hop”???

              So, go ahead, stay “unimpressed” in your status quo while the rest of us raise the bar of performance and “exel” at “new” opportunities.

            • @Chris S:

              “You want to argue with Nick about the King of all subpar performers in many companies – HR!?!”

              I don’t see at all how EEDR is arguing with me.

              “So, go ahead, stay “unimpressed” in your status quo while the rest of us raise the bar of performance and “exel” at “new” opportunities.”

              And I don’t see how EEDR’s comments suggest EEDR has a low bar, or who “the rest of us” are.

        • Dave, you are correct, ~2 years seems to be the magic number to maximize income.

          Keep in mind, income is one part of the compensation equation. Each time we switch, there are new people to prove ourselves to, and a new culture to figure out.

          I stayed with a company for a considerable amount of time. Never had a hassle with taking vacation. Loved everybody I worked with. A great place to work.

          There was one guy on my team that got paid significantly more than the rest of us. Along with being a great guy and very skilled, he relocated any time there was a need. If memory serve, six times in fifteen years. In my opinion, he deserved to get paid more than the rest of us (also, he did not have children).

        • Companies that limit raises to current employees while giving bigger boosts to new hires are just as bad as job hoppers who do it merely for the money.

          Neither approach works well in the long run for anyone. Since the solution is more money, and employers control the money, I think HR needs to get real about this. Job hoppers are propelled by money.

          Employers need to deal with the money issue more realistically.

          • Good point, Nick. A new hire at work (as of last September) changed jobs because at her old job the new hires were getting hired at higher rates and there were absolutely no raises for current employees. She found it demoralizing and discouraging (the new hires were doing the same job she was, and she mentioned that some of the new hires there were lazy–so not only did they get paid more than she did, they did less work. When she asked about a raise, she was shot down). Then she said her old employer complained that they can’t get good help…..but they’re not treating their help right.

  2. I admit this is dangerous territory. I once worked for a credit union where I could see the direct deposits of co-workers if they had joint accounts – don’t ask me why.

    I wasnbeyond dismayed. Without spilling the beans I tried to re-negotiate a few times. Finally I found another job.

    I let it be known after the fact (the Boss and I had mutaual friends outside of there) how ticked off I was.

    I later found out the comp plan became worse thoseveho came after me.

  3. The prior contracting relationship may be the key, but because contractors may be paid more salary to compensate for not having benefits. If the company decides to hire the contractor, they can’t expect the person to take a pay cut. This happened with someone I know and it obviously worked to her benefit – one of the few instances in which the salary history game favors the employee.

  4. My current position was actually a cut in pay from my previous position. My previous position was with a company that is showing signs of instability – I needed to leave for peace of mind. When I got this job, my previous company had cut our salaries 20% for an entire year. At this point, I was getting more money on my new job. (My boss tried to counter-offer, and I am so glad i turned him down.)

    The way my company works is by using pay grades – when I was presented with the offer I was told that I was getting the highest non-managerial pay grade along with the highest salary available. My boss likes my enthusiasm for the job, and even though I’m a hardware engineer, I did volunteer to do some software work when there is less hardware work (I was hired for my analog circuit expertise). I’m trying to make sure I’m making valuable contributions.

    It all comes down to my philosophy that there are three entities a person needs to be concerned about whether you are an entrepreneur, accountant, manager, engineer, or janitor. The first and most important aspect of business is the customer. Focus on the customer, make them happy, and even delighted if possible. To achieve this, you need some great employees who want to realize the success of the company by pleasing the customer. Finally, form excellent relationships with great vendors. A vendor came to visit one day, and even though I was not in a position to buy their products at the moment, I will be eventually. They thanked me for taking time out of my very busy schedule. I told them that forming excellent relationships with vendors is a priority, and I thanked them for coming in.

    So many companies are in trouble today because they forget about customers, employees, and vendors. Don’t people realize that research shows that you will do better business if all three of these are satisfied? For example, I was on an airline flight recently and was very uncomfortable. I also took trains and buses on this trip and was much more comfortable. I wrote to the airline and asked, “Why can’t you be more like them?” Now airlines might think, “If passengers are uncomfortable, they will be willing to pay for an upgrade.” Nope! I want to avoid airlines, so for part of my trip, I took the train. Now the train has plenty of room. My very positive experience makes me want to take a sleeper car with the family! In other words, a positive experience at the inexpensive level makes me want to purchase more. See how that works? Disclaimer: I am a private pilot and recognize how critical weight and balance is, and I used to work for a major aircraft manufacturer.

    I realize i have really strayed from my original intent, but for me, part of what I like is to have a sense of purpose in life. When I got my offer, I had already done negotiating, and realized that my company would only approve a higher salary by going up and down the management chain. (There had been a hiring freeze for some time.) So now I am doing everything I can to justify a hopefully higher salary. By the way, we had about 500 units of a new product that needed another task performed before sending them to the customer, so another engineer and I went through the process of getting these units ready. With each box packed up after doing this tedious task a few times, I got more and more excited as I was going to get this merchandise into the hot little hands of the customer. Yes!!! Remember: Customers, employees, and vendors – these are your keys to success.

    PS: If you want a 30% higher salary, hang onto your job now, make the best of it. Work on a development plan wth your boss. Volunteer for tasks – jump in! Ask yourself daily, “What can I do for the customer today?” If it’s something tedious, make it sound exciting. If you need to do a tedious task such as a final product test, and your name is John Smith, call it “John Smith’s Signature Checkout.” Find out your market value. I have found my biggest raises come from changing jobs, but remember, that higher salary can end up being more costly to you in poor health and high stress.

    If you want that higher salary, make yourself really valuable. Look for promotion opportunities. Volunteer to do things that are “not your job.” Make yourself known – get to meet other managers. Make good use of water cooler conversations. Tell your manager, “I love working here, and I am enthusiastic about opportunities within this company. I am interested in growing within this company, and feel my position is an excellent fit. Likewise, I see that you need some help with in , and I would like to help you accomplish this. Truth be told, I am seeking a higher salary, and I want to do what it takes to justify it.” I would have a hard time telling my manager that last sentence (and my salary is out of my manager’s control – the most he can do is give me a higher rating).

    There is nothing wrong with looking for another job, either. Try to get a raise in your current job while looking for a new job.

  5. At my last job, benefits were promised, and delivered, to a point. The pay was low, and I decided to give them a year, as would I, them. While it didn’t work out, my personal development and what I offered others was worth it.

  6. Nick, It is appalling and demeaning you referred to this women’s coworker as her buddy. This women did not refer to him as a friend, why would you? Big slip by you.

    • I would say that is a tiny slip that is barely worth mentioning. No white knighting here, please. By the way, Ive called out Nick on a few things but do so privately, and always get a professional response, even if we don’t agree on the outcome.

      • 100% Agree with Anonymous.

        Stay focused on the subject matter.

        Better to speak from the ground than a high horse when it wasn’t even about you.

    • What leads you to believe the writer is a woman in the first place? Did I miss something?

    • @MJ: Uh, who said the OP is a woman? Regardless, I don’t see the term “buddy” as loaded. It might be a friend. It might be someone assigned to work with you on a “buddy system.”

      If you haven’t noticed, my writing is casual and friendly. I try to assume the best. There was no indication in the OP’s question of any acrimony regarding the other employee.

      Lighten up :-)

    • ..oh boy, another triggered poster.

      Didn’t we already have to deal with another abrasive and inflammatory post in this very blog where one poster digitally “stabbed” another, accusing them of being “anit-muslim” – PLEASE folks, get a grip and keep your juvenile fake-phobias to yourself.

      Hey, “Salvato”…open mouth, insert foot much?

      “buddy” – ya, and who cares besides you?

      “women’s” – really, so that’s how you view the facts?

      Before you go further out on the offended “women” branch and hurt yourself, please check out a March 1996 issue where Nick states:

      “My special guests for this event included three women who exemplify the philosophy of “success on your own terms” in work and life. Each has an engaging message for women (and men, even!) to help them become more powerful (and successful) contributors to the world of commerce and business.”

      …hardly biased.

      Got any other insults for us “Salvato”? You and “Sightmaster” would benefit by getting together and making a pack to spare us of further “anti”-this-“anti”-that negative and empty rhetoric.

      Good luck with that.

      • @Chris S:

        Please: Enough with the personal attacks. MJ Salvato, like we all do sometimes, went “off.” But MJ did not beat it to death. E.g.,

        ..oh boy, another triggered poster.

        PLEASE folks, get a grip and keep your juvenile fake-phobias to yourself.

        Hey, “Salvato”…open mouth, insert foot much?

        Civility breaks down sometimes when we get irate, but the measure of a civil community shows when someone who “goes off” momentarily drops it — and doesn’t keep doing it.

        Please stop doing it.

  7. I managed fast food for a regional chain.

    The owner believed that anybody in Operations had to have a hands-on knowledge on how the revenue was generated (how the restaurants operated). Thus the highest level someone could be hired in was Assistant Manager. And they had to be in the role for a minimum of six months. And each successive level for six months.

    This could pose a difficulty for bringing in experienced people from outside the company.

    It was common knowledge that some people were hired on at a significant higher rate than the standard Assistant Manager. And they received their promotions exactly six months from their hire date.

    The result was a tremendous respect for the line workers, as well as an understanding of how and why things work.

    With a single, standard “Assistant Manager pay rate” would not have allowed for this.

    • “The owner believed that anybody in Operations had to have a hands-on knowledge on how the revenue was generated”

      I love it.

      • Nick: Everybody who was not in Operations was required to work one week every year in the restaurant. Owner’s personal assistant. Head of accounting. HR. Everybody.

    • Best analysis I have read on the the pay gap issue.

      Much of it confirms what I have long thought.

    • I believe she got paid less because she is female. I’ve been working a long time. There has been no demonstrable difference between my program and any man’s program because I’m female. I do superior work – but I apply my skills and learning to solving the business problem. And I find that anyone who does the same stuff as I do will have the same quality. None of my superior work is due to the fact that I’m female. However I am paid less than male co-workers. So @Nick, I believe your advice is the best way for the writer to use to win herself a pay raise. But I believe that it raises the bar on her a lot higher to produce even more superior work and all she’ll get for it is the same pay as the guy next to her (and only maybe will she get the raise.). I think the best advice in this case is to look for a better job and when they do salary negotiation start at 10 percent higher than the guy.

      • @Lucille: I get your point, but no matter who or what job or company we’re talking about, it’s virtually impossible to compare one job to another and say they’re equivalent. In this week’s Q&A, there’s a distinct possibility that other factors played into the salary difference. My intent was to highlight those and to talk about them.

        Having said that, I’m of the opinion that there is pay disparity between men and women for essentially the same jobs. But it’s a big topic, and here I’m trying to tackle a smaller one. :-)

        Once again, however, there’s no indication the OP is female in this Q&A.

  8. This is a common problem. In my experience many large companies base their offer on what the candidate stated as his/her last salary. Many people up the amount and then get more if hired. Being honest seems to be a mistake. Once hired, it is very difficult to get HR to make an adjustment. They just won’t do it. So, if you are unhappy, do your best and start looking around for another job in the company or in another company.

    • “So, if you are unhappy, do your best and start looking around for another job…”

      Best course of action, I agree.

      However…unfortunately we’ve witnessed the fact that most prefer to stick around, complain, and then demand their wages be increase based upon anything but merit.

      Case in point, $15 minimum wage plowing around the U.S. Then, when the the business can’t make payroll and has to cut hours, fire employees or go out of business we get the progressives screaming “discrimination!”

      Can’t make this stuff up folks!

      • Min wage must go up. It is way too low and hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living. Also, it is unfair to ask taxpayers to subsidize hugely profitable companies like Walmart and McDonalds. When those companies pay inappropriately low wages, their employees qualify for gov benefits like SNAP (food stamps) and sec 8. Everyone who works FT in the USA deserves a basic living wage. All of the productivity gains / profits have gone straight to the top, in recent years, instead of being spread among all levels in proportion to contribution. The issue is much more complex than what you presented. (No, I don’t work for min wage.) ;-)

        • But Wal-Mart’s profit margin is 3-3.5%.

          • Amazon’s profit margin is lower — 2.03% in March 2017. I’m not a big fan of PayScale or other salary-reporting services, but PayScale reports Amazon pays way over minimum wage. Cf.

            Yet Amazon employees are reportedly among the unhappiest.

            That tells me the money compensates for the unhappiness, and that suggests it pays to pay people more than minimum wage.

            Bring on the debate. I’ve done nothing more than cursory thinking about this. :-)

            • Certainly, money does make up for a bit of pain.

              My point was that Wal-Mart currently doesn’t have a whole lot of room to play in regards to raising wages as it’s not printing cash like Apple.

              Of course, the current business models in retail are not working, so Wal-Mart is going to have to think about tweaking how they do business, which hopefully includes better pay/working conditions for their workers.

      • @Chris S: It’s not so clear that a higher minimum wage will hurt the economy, or even businesses. Businesses that survive by not paying fairly are questionable to begin with.

        • I agree with this assessment 100% – if your profits are completely dependent on paying people the least amount possible, then there is something wrong with your business model.

          • @Dave: I continue to be astonished at the phony “business logic” that dictates paying workers wages as low as possible. That phony logic says it’s a market thing. Workers accept low pay because the market drives it.

            That’s ridiculous. From the time of Henry Ford, the real logic has taken the larger economy into account. Ford raised his production line workers’ pay when he realized that money and profits are not to be kept; they’re to be reinvested — not just in the business, but in the economy. Thus, paying higher wages resulted in his own workers being able to afford Ford cars, thereby driving an upward trend in spending, production, pay and quality of life.

            When I hear employers crying that higher minimum wages will force them to fire people or go out of business, I go back to their own “market logic”: So what? All it means is that you’re not running a sound, profitable business.

            While we can debate the actual $$ the minimum wage should be raised to, what’s past debating is that under the current minimum wage you cannot live in America.

            • Ummm, minimum wage was not meant to “live on” in a capitalist society.

              By definition, entry level, low skilled employees can’t live on their own – that’s the whole point and incentive to not be dead weight on the system for ones entire life.

              Economics 101 is often ignored with grave consequences – see Detroit as a star witness. Pick one: Capitalist, Socialist, or Communist. You either want to earn your supposed value or have someone else support you. I chose to upgrade my skills and leave the min wage hole ASAP while others clamored for a higher min wage for NO additional effort, responsibilities, or accountability.

              As I stated in prior posts and is proven by Freidman, the minimum wage is an artificial tool that more often hurts the very people it intends to help.

              You can have your own feelings and opinions all day long but the law of nature will always dump a big cold bucket of facts on top. Trigger alert for the easily offended:

              Freidman speaks about “do gooders”, “negro”,
              “don’t judge a bottle by its label”, “discrimination”, “welfare”,
              “unions”, etc, etc.

              Here ya go…

              Best of all, we just witnessed a pack of liberal states that jumped on the $15/hr. min wage bandwagon awhile ago now seeing business after business FIRING employees it can no longer afford – directly due to said wage hike. Yet the staunch min wage supports are out there “protesting”…for…more…jobs. Classic.

              Next, we here crying about how the labor market “isn’t fair.” See the following where many well known names are quoted on this topic…

              chris S
              12:31 pm on August 10, 2017

              As Freidman stated, “do gooders” frequently are the ones complaining how “unfair” life is while they collect their welfare checks.

          • Have you ever owned any equities?

            …try telling shareholders that profit margins must be squeezed since low skill workers demand higher wages simply for showing up to work. LOL.

            That’s like a Millennial demanding a company car, supervisory status and 5th year pay level as a construction site employee simply because they’re a newly minted college grad. Home prices are bad enough (once again) now. NO, I don’t wish to subsidize juniors pay at my expense.

            The fence swings both ways…

            Following your own “logic”, if your salary demands are completely dependent on getting paid the highest compensation “…then there is something wrong with your…” personal goals, ego, market reality, etc.

            As Freidman said: “Businesses aren’t charities.”

            Hasn’t ATH posted many, many articles and blogs on how to be proactive in going after “your share” of those profits??? Hmmmm, either prove your value and get paid for it (another ATH principle) or start your own company and show us how easy it is to stay PROFITABLE for more than a few years.

  9. “Finally, my apologies to the Bible for mangling a good parable.”

    You are forgiven my son!

    But seriously, your recounting of said parable got the facts correct. In this culture of “big daddy/mommy government will look after me” people seem to think that negotiations are an afterthought and that everyone is equally suited and talented for almost everything.

    BIG mistake!

    OP got the “crappy” deal since that is what they a-c-c-e-p-t-e-d. Either OP lacks skills, talent, and/or any number of other deficiencies or is just clueless about reality.

    Essentially, value = $$$.

    Anyone have a problem with that???

    If so, there are plenty of socialist/communist countries that would just love to have you join their dictatorship clan. Good luck getting a “fair deal” under that type of setup.

    • Perhaps negotiating skills should be formally taught in HS and uni. Of course, pay disparities can be complex and due to more than negotiating skills, but it is a start to teach these skills. Teach tomorrow’s employees to make a solid, fact-based case for more pay and benefits.

      • …and who’s gonna pay for that???

        What next, ballroom dancing, basket weaving, and “dressing for success” to round out the “educational” experience?

        We’re already paying to ship in foreign workers via big gubmint programs to supposedly solve the “lack of talent crisis” in the U.S. Worse yet, there’s that looming U.S. Student Loan bubble of debt (subsidized by big gubmint) that we’re on the hook for too when it pops.

        Student loan debt is at historic default rates as well as record high numbers of adult “children” living in their parents basements due to worthless degrees.

        Sorry, there simply isn’t any money left to “teach” life skills with taxpayer dollars.

        • I really wish there was an “ignore” button around here, I’d be clicking it next to your name.

          You seem to have a great deal of contempt for people in general, I recommend you go seek help for that (curious how Nick didn’t remove your anti-Muslim rant a few weeks back — Nick, are you certain you have no readers of the Muslim faith?).

          • @Sighmaster: I try to avoid deleting comments. I find for the most part that readers do a good job reminding one another what the standards are here. Additionally, lack of responses to certain kinds of posts are a kind of check in themselves. I think we all learn more that way. People are judged by their words and actions.

            Where I draw a line is when arguments break out and the topic becomes the argument, or when the argument gets personal. Offensive posts are very rare on this forum, and I’m proud of that — this community’s self-imposed standards of behavior are very high (just look around the Net). When someone demonstrates repeated, unnecessarily offensive behavior, I contact them offline. Again, that’s rare.

            Your concern isn’t lost on me.

        • What is so wrong with teaching students how to negotiate, how to dress for success, and other “life skills”? I currently work at a community college. To say that the majority of the student body is “underserved” is putting it mildly. But what I do like about working there is that these students, for the most part, don’t have entitlement issues. They need a lot of help, much more than we can provide, but we are there to try to help them succeed. A few years ago, one of the student workers at the library was selected (her name was randomly drawn) to keep the clothes and accessories the Student Success Center and a women’s organization purchased for her as part of a dress for success workshop. She also got to have her hair done, and taught how to do her makeup. She was sooooo thrilled and grateful, because she couldn’t afford to go to Kohl’s and spend $350.00 on a few new (professional) outfits for herself. She was an immigrant (but was an American citizen) who lived with her father and two sisters. Her mother remains in Iran. Her father stocked shelves at Walmart, she worked two part time jobs and went to school full time, with the goal of transferring to a local college and becoming a nurse. She had to contribute to the rent and other expenses, so there was little left for non-necessities. The problem is that for some jobs (I’m thinking business, not nursing) you have to look like a million bucks even if you can’t afford a design suit, shoes, handbag, etc. just for the interview. She was 30 and admitted that she didn’t know what was appropriate for interviews and even where to begin. The workshop taught her about interviews, including how to dress for them, and she found the class helpful, as do most of our students. If part of the purpose of even community college to give people the skills to get better jobs, that includes more than the knowledge/academic and technical skills.

          • @Marybeth: “If part of the purpose of even community college to give people the skills to get better jobs, that includes more than the knowledge/academic and technical skills.”

            Amen to that!!

      • @EEDR: “Perhaps negotiating skills should be formally taught in HS and uni.”

        Only the Moms and Dads and debt-laden students who pay for education can demand that. I shake my head at why they don’t.

        • I agree with you Nick. These are the kinds of skills that should be taught in high school and college, and it shouldn’t matter whether the college is Harvard or the local community college. Not everyone grows up in a family that can teach kids about what to wear for interviews, how to negotiate, etc.–not if your father worked in construction and your mother rang register at a lumber yard and you want to work for a big law firm or in banking…..

    • @Chris S:

      OP got the “crappy” deal since that is what they a-c-c-e-p-t-e-d. Either OP lacks skills, talent, and/or any number of other deficiencies or is just clueless about reality.

      First, we don’t even know that the deal the OP took is “crappy,” although we do know the OP accepted whatever the deal was.

      But there’s no evidence at ALL for the suggestions in the rest of your comment. We don’t know anything about the OP’s skills, talent, “deficiencies” — or how clue-full the OP is.

      When we get away from the text, we get into trouble.

  10. It seems like the reader was happy with their job before finding out some information that doesn’t change their actual job or the pay rate they previously thought was acceptable for the job. Happiness is derived internally. Basing happiness on comparison to others will always fail at some point. If you love your house, why would that change when you see a new house get built nearby?

    I do see lots of good information in the replies about how to increase your value, which hopefully leads to more money. But if you made the deal and were happy with it before, don’t let this new information kill your happiness / job satisfaction.

  11. “If you love your house, why would that change when you see a new house get built nearby?”

    Unfortunately, it would change because of the temptation to covet the shiny new object and the raw emotion of jealousy. Refer to the Bible reference Nick gave in his opening response.

    People like to “ignore” politics and religion but we all know the workplace is LOADED with these issues.

    “…good information in the replies about how to increase your value…”

    Yes indeed, you either have it, improve it or need to develop it. However, there are posters that get “triggered” by this reality and would clearly prefer a socialist government telling us all where and how to work.

  12. There is a gender gap in salary because women don’t know how to negotiate salary. Its not what you make but what you negotiate.
    And most people don’t know what they are worth in the market place. I am lucky to have a niche talent that a lot of people don’t have. As a consultant and a woman, I am always the highest paid person in the room. Man or Woman, I am currently at a firm where they want to bring me on as an employee. This firm knows they have to pay me the same as I will leave and go to another firm as a consultant. Even if I am between gigs, and not working, I don’t lower my rate
    People need to remember that an employer wants to get your services as cheap as possible, but you as a potential employee need to get your services as high as possible.
    I also live by the age old addage, ask and you will receive, don’t ask, don’t receive.
    I have had some cases where I told some potential employer some ridiculous rate, knowing they would say no. and they came back with ” When can you start”

  13. The reason some of us are assuming the OP is a woman is because those of us who are women have faced wage discrimination AND the backlash for negotiating for *ourselves*. It’s interesting to me that many of the people commenting so far have male names.

    Why does this person feel bad? Because it’s human nature. It’s primate nature. Do a search for “sense of fairness” in chimpanzees videos and you will see a chimp stop performing a task for a piece of cucumber when their neighbor gets a grape for the same task. IIRC, it’s on Fairness is a human need.

    If they are doing the same work (i.e. creating the same value for the employer), they should be getting paid the same.

    OP should do more research on salary and move on to another employer who will pay fairly.

    The problem is that it’s very hard to get real market rate data for real jobs. Not the theoretical job titles in salary websites available to employees. My former employer paid a lot of money for real salary survey data for our industry. I was shocked how little it correlated to the publicly available data and how my direct reports would have been underpaid if they had negotiated based on that data.

    • “The problem is that it’s very hard to get real market rate data for real jobs.”

      Unfortunately, much about salary/pay is rationalized using questionable “data” from the likes of PayScale and Glassdoor. The real challenge is understanding the jobs we’re comparing — and that can be incredibly difficult.

      As some others have pointed out, perhaps the best way out of pay disparity is to learn how to negotiate for pay.

      • Please do tell how to avoid the backlash against women who negotiate?

        I’m actually not coming back. It’s like reading the Google women don’t belong in tech manifesto.

        A bunch of dudes telling women we’re doing it all wrong, not that they (men) have stacked everything against us.


    • Anonymous stated: “Fairness is a human need.”

      Actually no, but oxygen, water, blood, etc. is.

      “Life isn’t fair. It never was and never will be.”
      – John F Kennedy

      “You don’t need it to be fair. Make life unfair to your advantages.”
      – Robert Kiyosaki

      “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”
      – William Goldman

      “What’s fair depends on the facts… While you may be getting treated unfairly, you just as well may not have all the facts to make that judgment.”
      – Nick Corcodilios (part of Nick’s response to OPs Q, see above)

      “Just the facts, ma’am.”
      – Detective Sergeant Joseph “Joe” Friday

      And my favorite…

      “Life is not fair. Get used to it.”
      – Bill Gates

    • “It’s interesting to me that many of the people commenting so far have male names.”

      Why is that?

      …and how does that change the facts?

      This site gives information about salaries in the local market as well as projected demand for each category of work.

  14. I agree that the OP doesn’t have a remedy now. What s/he can do is plan ahead to annual job performance review, if there is one, keep track of accomplishments, the amount of money s/he made for the company, problems solved (including how much money s/he saved for the company by solving said problems), etc.

    The other option would be to begin looking for a new job if there are no future raises to be had.