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I've been working at my current company for 6 months now as a junior developer, and I've got my first review next week. I'm being paid a good salary as it is, higher than pretty much all of the other companies in the area offer.

I was talking to my boss last week who said that I have been doing much more than what is expected of my job role. I know I have been performing well and people who I have worked with seem to be impressed with how well I have been doing straight out of University. With this in mind, should I push for a pay rise? Like I said, I'm already being paid fairly, so I don't want to appear to be ungrateful or push my luck.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., bethlakshmi, jcmeloni, jmac, CMW Feb 26 at 9:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Is your work and output above average? if yes, then you probably deserve an above average wage. –  Lego Stormtroopr Feb 23 at 22:49

4 Answers 4

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Pay is a highly negotiable and individual item. It's the primary way that a company tells you what you are worth to them.

Quite frankly pay for developers is all over the map. Part of the reason is that it's incredibly hard to find great developers and incredibly easy to find mediocre ones. Another reason is that sometimes great developers work for peanuts simply because they lack the fortitude to ask for more.

Next, bear in mind that salary survey sites aren't always very accurate. Most are based on a tiny subset of the population - namely those who provided some of their individual info in order to gain access to what other people are claiming they make. It would be rare for a company to release actual salaries to those sites. The real test is what the company is currently paying their team and what it would take to replace you. If you are going above and beyond then that has value. Most managers know this.

For example, I've had situations where one dev working for me was paid nearly twice what another one doing a very similar job was paid, with similar work experience. The reason was simply that I could count on the higher paid guy to produce a vastly higher quality of work than the other so I made sure he was compensated accordingly. In another situation I had a middle of the road guy making far more than the rest of the group simply because the market at that time was such that it was hard to find people and I needed that spot filled.

Bearing the above in mind, remove all concepts of "fairness" from your thoughts. Life is, by nature, completely unfair; business life doubly so. Pay is a negotiation between what you think you are worth and what value the company places on you. Again, this has nothing at all to do with what others are making. Hopefully the two are somewhat in line. Side note: I'd stay away from talking pay with other employees. When people discuss this someone (usually all parties) ends up unhappy.. but that's a completely separate subject.

All of that said, Never be afraid to ask for more money during the review; that's the time to do it. If for some reason your manager loves you but can't get a raise pushed through then there are usually other options. For example maybe they might be able to give you extra vacation time, provide a company laptop, or even provide licenses for you to use your dev tools at home.

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It's important, going into a review, to understand its purpose. For most companies, it is the mechanism that leads to your boss telling you what your raise will be. If so, that meeting is too late to ask for a raise, but you may get one that you didn't ask for. It's wise to let them give it to you before asking, because they might give you even more than you expect, and they will feel good about generously giving you something before you asked.

In other companies, it's a place for you to talk about your long term goals and wishes in the company, and the goals and wishes they have for you. This will of course include a discussion of salary plans and trajectories.

I suggest that you should put some time into thinking about what you would like to be paid. In the meeting, if you are told you are getting a raise to that level, you can just say "thankyou, that is just what I wanted to hear." If you are told you are getting no raise, or a raise to a lower level than that, or if salary isn't discussed, you can ask something like "what steps do I need to take in terms of my training or taking on more responsibilities so that I can get my salary moving towards $X?" Bosses don't generally just give you more money when you ask for it: they typically show you a path to a job title or level that pays more money, and help you know what you need to do to get there.

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If you feel you are being paid fairly this implies you feel the pay your receive is appropriate for the amount of value that you add. In such a situation, what is the reason you feel the company should pay you more?

On the other hand, if you do not feel that the pay is fair for the value that you add, you can always negotiate. In that case, you should be able to document what causes the discrepancy. Do you have data about the earnings of developers performing similar job duties for the same or similar companies? Have you received job offers yourself that would imply a market rate for your wage that is higher than your current pay rate? If you can provide strong answers to these questions, then you should feel confident asking for a raise.

If you feel the pay is fair, then perhaps contemplate other features of the job. Does it afford you enough vacation and personal time? Do you have the work/life balance that you desire? Do you have a severance pay benefit in the event of lay-offs? Do you have the insurance benefits you desire?

Perhaps if the pay is fair, yet some of these other features are not what you're looking for, then you can describe the situation with your manager. Reassure your manager that you're not looking for something unreasonable and that this is not at all about leaving for a new job -- it's just about rewarding the value that you add by supplying job features that make you happy with the position.

The last thing to keep in mind is that salary questions can cause unintended side effects. In theory, your manager and the HR department, etc., should look at it in cold, rational, expected-utility kinds of terms. But humans are rarely capable of sustaining dispassionate calculation of that sort. Bosses and senior managers can become complacent, acting betrayed or offended, merely because a subordinate questions the status quo. Sometimes this can come way out of left field from a person who seemed to be a collegial coworker.

I'm not saying it will happen to you, but you should at least contemplate what that would be like and prepare for it. In the extreme case, managers may interpret your request as a demand, no matter how gently or delicately you phrase it, and they may begin looking for ways to replace you or build redundancy into your team as a way to hedge against your future dissatisfaction without having to bear the cost of meeting your stated preferences. In my experience, this is less likely to happen if you are asking for more vacation or some modifications to your benefits. When you raise questions about pay, people can become weird on you for seemingly no reason.

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For me, this is the best time to ask for a hike. You are not going to lose anything by asking, rather you may get a positive answer! The more prepared you are the more confident you will be in the conversation. The more confident you are the better you will project yourself and the more convincing your case will sound.

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