I had to leave my software engineering career for a couple of years to help with a family business. When I was ready to go back to my normal profession, I found it difficult to find many jobs to apply for as my local job market for my particular niche was quiet at the time. So 4 months ago I took a low paying position with a small local startup company to start getting industry experience under my belt again. But while the people are very pleasant to work with, as a startup they don't have much money and the salary is far below my normal expectations and definitely too low for me to be able to stay long term. I really want to make the market rate for my experience level and I am now seeing that there is a pickup in my area for my speciality with the larger and better paying companies and I want to apply to them.

In interviews, I imagine I am likely to be asked why am I looking to move on again so soon from a new job that I've been in for less than 6 months. What should I say about the reason? Should I openly say its because of below market rate pay in my current company?

And if I admit to the interviewer that I'm currently making below current market rate, I'm concerned they might attempt to offer me something in between my current pay and current market rate so I would undermine myself.

Is there a way to answer such a question so that it wont raise a red flag that I am leaving a new job so soon and I don't undermine my goal of being offered market rate?

  • 1
    Just because they offer doesn't mean you can't make a counter offer ;) Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 1:41
  • Why not say what you said here? "I came off from helping the family business, and found a job not quite what I want pay and experience wise. I am searching for a job, and this company matches what I would like to do."
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


I would be honest with any interviewers. Leaving your chosen profession to help out your family business is a good thing and should be looked on favourably. Equally, there's nothing a wrong taking a job with lower pay when there wasn't a lot out there in your area of expertise is a good thing and shows you're willing to work, even if it's not exactly right for you.

Tell your interviewers that you realise the market has picked up and you are now looking for jobs where your skills will be most useful.

If your current salary is mentioned, make it clear that it's a start up and the pay is reflected accordingly; stating what salary you to expect at an established company.

  • Workig, even for lower pay than expected, other than not working at all, is often seen as a good sign. +1
    – Mafii
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 9:12

Put the amount of time you've been working for this company in the context of being a startup. All the time frames are compressed. You hoped after your trial period (whether there was a formal one or not), the company would be in a better financial position and they are not.

No one expects you to go into any details about how the other company is doing or whether or not your compensation has anything to do with it. It would be no different if they were paying you a competitive salary, but went out of business next week. They're risky and you no longer want to take the risk.

That's the nature of startups and I think employers look at those experiences differently. Now, if you were at Apple for a few months and wanted to leave, that would be very different.

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