I'm a senior developer and team lead that's been with my company since leaving college. I've recently found that a colleague, who was hired last year as a senior engineer (so a step below me technically) is on roughly 20% higher wages than I am.

Two years ago I asked for a wage increase when I took on the team lead role and was told no the money wasn't there. I received my cost of living adjustment this year plus a raise which amounted to 12%. The 20% difference is after this was applied so this time last year I was closer to 30% below my colleague.

Given that I was refused this raise in the past how should I approach the conversation. My initial thought is to mention to my manager that I discovered the wage being paid to my colleague and mention that I would like to discuss the situation later in the week.

Edit - Thanks all just some clarifications from the comments.

  1. My colleague has less overall experience than me and I am also a senior developer, not just a team lead. I perform the menial team lead stuff as well as actively developing.

  2. I'm also looking around for another opportunity, that's not what I'm asking about. What I'm looking for is an approach to the negotiation.

  3. IANAL (I am not a lawyer) but I believe that salary rates are not confidential in my country or contract

  4. My colleague has handed in his notice so it's natural for discussion of salary to have come up between us

  • 48
    In my experience, you'll have better raise by changing company than staying a long time at the same position. What you are experiencing is very common. Anyway, you shouldn't put your colleague in a delicate situation, he has nothing to do in this situation. You shouldn't value yourself in comparison to him.
    – Bebs
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 13:20
  • 3
    Where are you located? Your ability to use the salary information of your colleague may depend on the policy of your locality.
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 13:20
  • 1
    A question so similar was posted last week, now not to be found...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 13:24
  • 1
    See this and the duplicate : workplace.stackexchange.com/q/138479/75821
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 13:28
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    @Bebs to clarify I've cleared mentioning my colleagues wages with him if required though I'm taking the general advice to not mention it at the beginning of the negotiations. My colleague was pretty shocked he assumed I was somewhere around 25% above him
    – Anonymost
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 10:33

7 Answers 7


Your value to the organisation isn't based on on your colleagues pay, as much as that sucks in a situation like this.

If you want a pay rise in your current workplace then you will need to give your manager reasons why you deserve more than you currently make. Your colleague earning more than you is not that reason - it needs to be based on what you deliver.

If you're being paid less than the market rate for your level of experience in your area then your best bet is to find a new position in an organisation that's prepared to offer you what you think you're worth.

  • 30
    One thing I've heard a lot by really good senior developer partners, "I am really happy in the company. I also have seen interesting projects outside, with better salary, and an interest in my experience. What can you offer me?" Even though you might be happy in your company, your work must be valued as it is! If other companies value it high, why not yours?
    – M.K
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 14:07
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    Also, your salary isn't based on your value to the company.
    – Aron
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 1:33
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    Your salary is based on their will to keep you. If you are not looking outside, why they would bother give your more? Want a raise? Make them think how much they want to keep you, how much they need you.
    – aloisdg
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 7:53
  • @Aron "Also, your salary isn't based on your value to the company." Could you elaborate on that? What is it based on then?
    – Sebi
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 12:07
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    @Sebi It is simply based on how little they think they can pay you. In this case, they think they can pay him peanuts. If they paid everyone what they are worth, they would make zero profit by definition.
    – Aron
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 12:11

It's definitely worth negotiating your salary again with this new information.

Ask for time to discuss your role and salary with your manager. Make it clear before the meeting that the purpose of the discussion includes negotiation of your current compensation. This allows your manager to come prepared with an understanding of what is possible and what isn't.

Be specific with your proposal. Let you manager know exactly what you are requesting in compensation - don't just say "I want a raise." If you are more senior than your colleague, it would be reasonable to ask for at least that level of compensation.

You don't need to reveal why you are asking for a raise. Your compensation is about you and your capabilities, not what others are earning.

Unfortunately, it may be the case that your manager is limited in how much of a raise they can offer you once you're an employee. It isn't uncommon for a manager to have much more flexibility with compensation during hiring than for existing employees.

Good luck with the conversation!

  • 15
    It isn't uncommon for a manager to have much more flexibility with compensation during hiring than for existing employees. <- this. Actually, some companies have explicit policies concerning how much of % of a raise they can give to an existing employee, but no real hard ceiling on how much they can pay a newcomer, if they really need him.
    – user97792
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 22:25

The easiest way to get a raise is to get a new job

You can revisit with your boss, but you're probably best pointing out salary difference relative to the market, not an individual coworker. Make sure you know the going rate in your city, then go to your boss. Realize they still probably won't have the money for a raise.

If you don't get a raise, consider getting a new job.

  • This doesn't answer the question - of course switch jobs is always an option, but the question is about approaching a salary negotiation.
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 13:30
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    That is what the paragraph is about. Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 14:00

Your employer owes you nothing in regards to wages. You chose to accept and work for the wage. Having said that, if they plan on keeping employees happy, they should pay market value, and it's not unreasonable that you should expect to be paid what you're worth. If your employer doesn't pay you, you can go elsewhere and get it.

All that said, how do you approach the subject with management? I'd personally shy away from saying "Bob is getting xxxxx per year...why can't I?" I think it just portrays you in a bad light. I'd be wary of telling the boss you've been discussing it with coworkers.

I'd just come out and make the case that you're making below market value, and that you know that there must be money there, because they've been hiring. If they value you, they'll give you the raise. Be prepared to start looking for a job. Oftentimes, significant salary increases only come when a person switches jobs. Far too often, employers don't realize it costs more to hire new employees than to just give a raise.

  • Best answer so far :)
    – Strader
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 14:45

You Can't.

They will not ready for this negotiation OR you will get some more peanuts.

I'm a senior developer and team lead that's been with my company since leaving college


colleague, who was hired last year

This comparison is the problem.

Based on my own experience in India, this comparison will never work.

I am earning almost 40% less than the current market salary and my company is hiring people from outside by paying that 40% more salary than me.

But, they are not at all ready to negotiate with me.

because, they are believing that I will be with them and will not go to other company.

Anyway I am going to be here, So why they need to pay me more?

So, I suggest that don't compare your salary with anyone.

Else if you really want that salary, go and get it.

  • Why downvoted? I am sharing the reality and the experience of most people in and around me.
    – NiceGuy
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 0:49

My initial thought is to mention to my manager that I discovered the wage being paid to my colleague and mention that I would like to discuss the situation later in the week.

Don't mention that you know how much your colleague is being paid. In most companies, salary/wages information is meant to be confidential. Secondarily, salary/wages are paid based on what each individual negotiates for themselves and accepts. It's up to you to negotiate the salary/wage you want. Leave your colleague out of it.

If you believe that you're worth more than be prepared to show why you are worth more and then ask for the raise you think you deserve.

If you don't get the salary you think you deserve then you have only two choices:

  1. Continue with your current company at the salary/wage you have now.

  2. Find a job elsewhere that will pay you the salary you desire.

  • 1
    Actually in many places restricting the free speech of employees in this way is illegal. Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 23:58
  • Huh? Where is this illegal?
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 0:17
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    The USA for one, likewise all English speaking countries. medium.com/@BlindApp/… Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 0:19
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    There are specific laws in the US that cover retaliation against people discussing salary. (The same laws that make retaliation against people forming unions illegal, so there's a bit of a disconnect between what's illegal on paper and what's enforced.) No 1st amendment needed at all. npr.org/2014/04/13/301989789/… Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 0:56
  • The First Amendment doesn't apply to the workplace, but as Neuromancer pointed out, it looks like the NLRA has some applicability here.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 1:00

There will be always salary discrepancies:

  • Some people negotiate better than others;
  • some people enter the job, in a better job market than others;
  • some need to be paid more to recruit them away from the last job;
  • some have some talents commanding a higher salary on the market.

In theory, it is none of your business why they do make more than you; in practice, it is justifiable to ask a boss, in certain scenarios, why receiving less.

In my first job, where I was green, and got recruited with a lower salary, when I helped recruit a friend to come on board commanding a higher salary, I saw through it that I was badly paid, and had that conversation. My friend was sightly older, more experienced in life than me, but it was much less IT smart. At least they had the good sense to make our salaries equal.

So if you feel you as a leader are earning less, are worth more, and the excuse was money not being there, I would not do without other angles, but would also use the knowledge of the salary of other person. Knowledge is power. The most it can happen is being said no.

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