I work as a developer. Given my experience in web development (1.5 years) I have a fine salary. Hardly with my experience I can find better salary in my country.

Recently some more experienced developers decided to leave the company, and it might be there is an offer of roughly 2.5 times more salary (not sure if for everyone, but let's assume). Indeed there can be one or two experienced developers for which 2.5 times higher salary is justified - but not for everyone.

I feel given my experience that is too much salary for me. If I tell management that I don't have requirement on such a high salary can it be seen negatively? I could be fine with a salary 0.5 times more than current, but not 2.5 times more. I can assume when I receive such higher salary they can also require more from me which is again a reason for me not to agree to such a high salary.

I am curious if I tell them that my requirements could be fine for 0.5 times more salary, but not 2.5, can it be seen negatively from management?

PS: It is a government agency, and higher management might not be very well versed in IT. That's why I think they might not be able to guess that they should still differentiate even the raised salaries based on who has how much experience.


8 Answers 8


What strikes me is your note that it's a government agency.

I've had some experience with this, so I can tell you what to expect.

You're going to be dealing with something that has been neglected for years, snarled in red tape, outdated, messy, and you will not be provided with all the tools needed, not allowed to bring in your own, and will be stymied by management.

However, someone with the purse strings knows this and knows that they'll have to pay more to get people in the door.

I wouldn't expect this requiring much more skill, just much MUCH more patience.

  • 4
    Very possible. If true, this question might be worth a look - later : workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/58874/…
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 15:57
  • 142
    Yup, been there - they've probably got a cobol project they want rewritten in vba
    – mcalex
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 18:40
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    Is this for a specific government or branch of government, or are we just assuming all levels of government everywhere are equally bad? Given that I don't see a location given or a location tag, this answer seems far too definitive, when there are many different government roles and positions with varying levels of issues. It also isn't clear to me if OP was hired, or if OP just received a promotion after other members left; so for that reason, it wouldn't be a "getting in the door" tactic.
    – JMac
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 20:02
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    @mcalex ... and later, they'll call me to switch it back to Cobol, because at least cobol works. Happened a few times already.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 13:34
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    @gazzz0x2z if only 'working' was the criteria. Unfortunately, the manager has just found out you get a database package with Office ...
    – mcalex
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 20:01

I can't believe no one has said this yet:

Take. It.

There are many people who say you should never disclose previous salary when applying for a new job, and some U.S. states have passed laws against asking for it, but ... but as a rule, many employers (at least in the U.S.) expect this. And they use it as a baseline for the salary they'll offer in the new position.

Let's assume that you take the money and are unable to fulfill the new duties that come with it. Okay, you'll end up looking for a new job (statistically, this was probably likely in a couple years anyway) and you'll be in a much better position to negotiate salary when you do.

So okay, that's one scenario. What are the others?

  • Assume that you take the money and are fully up to the new duties that come with it. Everyone wins!

  • Assume that you don't take the money, but get the new duties anyway. You'll end up resentful & probably start job shopping. But in this scenario you're less well-poised to get a high-paying new job.

  • Assume that you don't take the money, and get no new duties. Won't some part of you think about what you could have done with that money? If not on a daily basis, then when the next financial crisis hits?

In short: TAKE! IT!

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    @cookieMonster Dunning-Kruger effect - those capable, feel like they aren't... those that aren't, feel like they are masters of all. wiki
    – WernerCD
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 23:21
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    Absolutely take it. A 2.5x increase (for 3.5 total)... that means in eighteen months you'll get paid over 5 years of salary. If that doesn't work out, you could take a complete vacation for another 18 months and still have two years of extra cash still untouched in the bank. Financially, there is no question, and since the extra will basically be disposable income beyond the costs of the basic necessities, it will feel like an even bigger bump than what the numbers would suggest. The main reasons not to take this is if it feels like a scam, or unstable situation (temporary/unreliable).
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 4:11
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    The concept of "what you deserve" is subjective anyway - the concept of "what you can get" is very clear cut. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 13:07
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    "Let's assume that you take the money and are unable to fulfill the new duties that come with it. Okay, you'll end up looking for a new job" Best part right here for me.
    – Mr.J
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 2:13
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    @TOGAM As a nit, that's a x3.5 on the pre-tax pay. The increase in take-home pay will be much less marked - but it's still likely to be very noticable. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 15:47

People who pay large salaries and have HR, managers and Boards overseeing their payroll -- are far less likely to make salary mistakes than individuals, who as a rule know far less than they think they do, and occasionally have personal issues relating to self-worth.

You might be right. But I wouldn't bet money on it - all the money in the game is betting against it.


I can smell an Impostor syndrome here. Your knowledge, expertise and skillbase have improved over the time. But too slowly for you to recognise them.

You work for the company and they pay you part of their profit as an reward.

Significant payrise shows how much they value your work for them. If your managers don't think you deserve the payrise you won't get it. There is no moral obligation towards accepting the payrise.

It is also possible that you are about to be promoted to higher position and the payrise is connected with the promotion. Then it will be backed up in contract. In that case you can argument that you don't feel ready for the promotion or that you don't want to pursue this career way.

Ask for the changes in the hierarchy after the developpers leave - who will replace their positions and inherit their responsibilities. This will give you informations what is going on and why you are offered the payrise.


Assuming you Have an Offer

To answer your question directly:

So I am curious if I tell them that my requirements could be fine for 0.5 times more salary but not 2.5 can it be seen negatively from management?

Essentially, that's telling management 2 things:

  1. You aren't worth as much to them as they think you are.
  2. They can get away with paying you lower wages than they would normally offer for your position.

So I would say that telling them you're worth less is definitely not a good idea. You might be worth it to them as opposed to the cost of training somebody else.

If it comes down to negotiations, don't negotiate what salary level you think you rightly deserve, discuss what responsibilities you think you can handle and let them decide what it's worth. If it turns out you get the promotion and it is more than you can handle, you have the choice of either training yourself to meet the challenge, or going somewhere else, but now you have a more impressive position on your resume.

If you Don't Have an Offer Yet

If they haven't even discussed a promotion or raise with you, you can either wait and see if they even offer you the position, or tell management that you're interested and see where things go from there. Whatever you do, do not assume that they will offer you a promotion or raise, as it would be presumptuous and definitely look bad.


Ask for more.

Every time in your life you're buying a house: you offer X. The reply must be that the violently reject it as being too low. Think about it: If not, you have offered too much.

Every time in your life you're selling your services: you ask X. The reply must be that the violently reject it as being too much. Think about it: If not, your price was too low.

Any time, in any context, at all, someone offers you X for work services, just instinctively (politely, of course) say, "Hmm, that's too low."

  • 1
    This is a very interesting answer, but unfortunately it's not compatible with most people's personality type. I would love to be the kind of person that does this, but I know I can't. I'd also like to be the kind of person that talks to people I'm interested in at the bar, but alas, I'm not. Such is life. But I gave you a +1
    – Cruncher
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 21:24
  • Thanks! I don't like bars as I wouldn't go that far for alcohol. I believe you could surely say this sort of thing when negotiating about a job! (What about read one of the classics such as Think and grow rich. 100.0% of people who are really good at negotiating, started out rubbish as it.) Good luck!
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 22:22

The job market is, first and foremost, just another market. As such, the price is set at the point where both parties meet.

If they offer you a salary 2.5 or 5 or 25 times your current, that is the price they are willing to pay. That you would be ready to accept a lower price is irrelevant.

You have an employment contract that states your responsibilities for the salary. As long as you satisfy these, your side of the deal is upheld, and if you believe that they are overpaying you - well obviously they don't.

There are usually reasons why prices go to unusual levels. Maybe supply is very low - maybe they have been looking on the market unsuccessfully for new hires. It might also be that the wage gap between junior and senior positions is simply higher than elsewhere.

One way or the other this is your market price now. No stock company ever has made a press release stating that they think their stock price is too high or people are paying too much for their product. You approach this question purely from the perspective of what you think your value is, but a market price is found as a meeting of minds between seller and buyer, and not based on eithers sole opinion.


A couple of things come to mind:

  1. Maybe you have landed the best job ever? Look forward to a great future.

  2. Maybe you are, in fact, underpaid in your current role? Look forward to a great future.

  3. Maybe their expectations for you may be far higher than you think, and that is why they are offering the high salary? If it is such a great job, I wonder why the previous employee left? Maybe it is lots of out-of-hours work and last minute travel in a very high pressure environment; maybe the skill level required is actually far beyond what you know. Look forward to perhaps crashing and burning.

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