This summer I got a summer job as a junior developer with the promise to continue as a part time while I finish my masters at the university.
I was hired with another student from the same university, but he attends another field of study, more related to the job than mine (General software development vs. ML/AI/Robotics).

In essence he should have an edge up on me in this job and I expected to having to do catchup throughout the summer. However, it soon became apperent that the opposite was true and the last couple of weeks I have been explaining and teaching him basic things he should know already. Despite this I have been outperforming him in terms of completed tasks and doing alot more work in alot less time.

At the end of the summer, we are supposed to have a interview, reviewing our work this summer. Me and my student colleague have the same wage, but I have alot more experience (5 yrs part time vs 2 yrs part time), I perform better, invest more time and am generally much more interested and forward leaning than him.

Because of this, I would like to have a raise at the end of the summer, but its far from essential.

TLDR; I believe I'm outperforming my colleague, who should be outperforming me.


How should approach the situation with my manager?
Its very discouraging having the same wage as my colleague while clearly performing better, but I don't want to badmouth my colleague or seem demanding.
I love the work and its a well paid job, its probably the best job I can get while finishing my masters degree.

I'll try and make my point better: I'm not feeling underpaid in general, the pay is actually above what is recommended for third years students. The issue is perhaps that my colleague is overpaid or perhaps that the paylevel at this firm is higher than what I expected.

Some have pointed out that the performance of my colleague should not be decide my own wage, but I disagree. My own performance and work is taking a hit, because I'm spending a considereable time teaching and helping my colleague. Furthermore, whenever our work is review, its constantly his work that is flawed and then having me fix the bugs and issues.
Isn't it then relevant for my wage? Can't I highlight for my manager that I'm constantly having to work twice as much as my colleague, despite getting the same wages?

Perhaps my question was poorly worded. How can I professionally highlight a performance discrepancy between me and my colleague, to aid in my performance review?


6 Answers 6


Short answer: What your colleague earns is completely irrelevant, pitch a pay rise on evidence that you are worth the more money.

You shouldn't mention what your colleague earns, it's irrelevant in terms of what you are worth. If you think you are worth a pay rise, then provide evidence around what the pay scales are for someone with your level of experience, and how you bring value to the company.

To say "I should earn more than this person" gives no reason to increase your wage. Quantify your request against local industry wage scales and how that applies against your experience and capability.

  • I disagree that the compensation of a colleague is irrelevant, but agree that it isn't the most convincing reason to offer when negotiating a raise. Comparing your own compensation to the compensation of colleagues in similar roles is a great way to gather information about the fairness of your pay.
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 10:21
  • 2
    Again, it's not about your colleague, it's about why the company should pay YOU more than you are now. What value are you adding that would justify your earning a pay rise?
    – Jane S
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:20
  • 1
    "How can i tastefully and professionally highlight just that?" Are you creating documentation for your coworker that he can look up, or are you walking over to his desk and helping him out? Telling your boss "I've documented ways to get around a lot of early pitfalls for new employees, you can find those <here>" is a lot more compelling than "Bob is making too much money." Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 12:49
  • 2
    Coming as a professional in the field of robotics, I would agree with this answer wholeheartedly. A coworkers salary and/or performance is not only none of your concern, it is also irrelevant when it comes to your worth to the company. You should always pitch your pay raise requests in terms of the value you bring to the company, not your value as compared to your coworkers.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 13:44
  • 3
    This really is the best answer, even despite the edits to the question. Think of it this way. If you say, "I should earn more than this person" - would you be happy if your boss fixed that by giving that person a pay cut? Or outright firing them? If you want to change your situation you have to focus on you. For all you know, they're already planning on not extending that person an offer, or putting them on an improvement plan, or some other action. If you can't justify your own increase without having to compare yourself to someone who's not performing, that's pretty weak.
    – dwizum
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 16:46

Speak with your manager. If you have an annual interview for performance and career, it's the time to mention why you deserve a raise. Don't compare yourself to others, stick to your own performance during your time at this job. Support your claim with data : what have you done which is over-performing ? What task have you accomplished ? What did you learn that improved your efficiency here ?

Be prepared and I wish you good luck in this interview. Don't stress yourself if it's not essential, but be professional, don't badmouth the capacities of your colleagues and be at your best !

  • "Support your claim with data", but how do I do that when alot of my better performance comes from having to teach and help my colleague, as well as better performance in general? I believe I'm performing better than expected of the firm, but also, alot of that is "wasted" on helping and teaching my colleague (who is supposed to atleast be equal). How can I highlight that?
    – Max
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:23
  • Do you use a source management tool ? You can then highlight the modifications you brought into the codebase. Improvement of performances, adding new features, correcting bugs from other people code...This is raw data you can use to prove that you're efficient !
    – S. Miranda
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:51

How should approach the situation with my manager?

You can ask your manager about how does your manager evaluate you. Your appraisal of performance might be biased, while your manager appraisal of performance might be subjective. Based on what your manager said if your manager willing to disclose it out of the annual contract review, you could get the hang of how well you perform.

Its very discouraging having the same wage as my colleague while clearly performing better, but I don't want to badmouth my colleague or seem demanding.

No need to compare anything with your colleague. You can ask if it's possible to have a raise soon if you're performing well. But you won't have much hope to have a raise while performing sub-standard. Asking for a raise for a good performance after years of work won't be seemed as demanding as it was what the company should value.

I love the work and its a well paid job, its probably the best job I can get while finishing my masters degree.

Well, if you don't get what you expect you could always search for alternatives. (Such as looking for another workplace)


No matter what is going to be discussed, don't blame your colleague. The reason he's earning the same pay isn't just based off his actual performance. Maybe he brought better arguments to the salary negotiation, maybe it's because his field of study is more related to the job. It could be due to a lot of reasons you possibly couldn't be aware of. He also certainly has other qualities which make him valuable, like maybe soft skills in human relations.

That's why I think you should just concentrate on yourself and not compare yourself to others. What you are currently experiencing is your own ego, not your colleagues payment. If you weren't aware of his salary you wouldn't be worrying at all, would you?

Make sure not to compare yourself with him publicly, especially not in the summer meeting. This will make you look like an envious, badmouthing person, lowering your expectations for anything which is yet to come.

Apart from this; If you feel your performance heavenly increased since you started at the company and first negotiated your salary, ask for a discussion with your manager after your summer meeting and point it out. You will have great chance to point out your development, projects were you did particularly great or in what other ways you turned out to be even more profitable to the company than initially thought.

Good luck!

  • Hi and welcome to The Workplace. The OP has stated that both they and their colleague are currently earning the same money, not that the colleague earns more.
    – Jane S
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 7:28
  • "If you weren't aware of his salary you wouldn't be worrying at all, would you?". Actually I probably would, but thats beside the point. As noted, despite he having a more relevant field of study, I far outrank him in experience, somethink i tried to point out. Please see the edit for some clarification.
    – Max
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:21

Depending on your relationship with your manager, you could simply ask for a raise. Suggesting or implying you want a raise can be good and all, but if you want more, you should ask. I would not bother mentioning your other colleague. Your not going to get paid more because your colleague performed worse than you. You will get paid more based on the merits of what you have done so focus on those. Of course, as this is a summer job, you might not get a pay raise at all. Performing well might simply secure you a job during the semester or future opportunities at the same company.

Also, remember that a promise with your manager does not guarantee you a job and budget requirements may prevent your boss from hiring anyone else or giving you a pay rise. It may not be your bosses decision to make in the first place.

  • +1 for pointing out that in some companies the employees wage is not directly controlled by the employees supervisor.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 13:46

Obviously you need a discussion with your manager, but you need to use a good tactical approach. Here's what is unlikely to work: "I feel underpaid". Reply: "We compare our salaries with the competition, and your pay is well in line with what other companies pay". "I am paid less than my colleagues who does a much less good job". "I checked this, and you're right, someone hired him for much too high a salary. But I cannot change that, and I can't overpay you as well". These are all reasonable counter arguments.

Here's what works: You come up with arguments that are hard to contradict without being very rude or making you want to leave (because your boss mostly wants you to stay, and your salary is really secondary). Your argument: "I think I performed excellent over the last year, I did A, B and C, I helped my colleague in areas X and Y, and I think my performance deserves a pay rise".

Now saying to your face that your performance wasn't actually good, or that you didn't do these things, or that you didn't help your colleague, that's very difficult to do. It's the kind of thing that drives good employees away, and that's the last thing your boss wants. Saying that your performance doesn't deserve a pay rise is equally difficult. If your performance now doesn't deserve a pay rise, then you will never deserve a pay rise. So why wouldn't you look elsewhere? Or stop working above average hard to do an above average job?

Note that you avoided comparing yourself with others, which is always problematic. These are all arguments that are hard to contradict (without upsetting the employee and possibly driving them elsewhere). You also avoided having to win a fight with the boss - bosses don't like to lose fights and can become quite irrational about that. Your boss wants someone who is performing well. And they want someone who deserves a higher salary than they currently get. It's usually more effective for the company to pay someone 110%. who delivers 110% than paying 90% to someone delivering 90%. So while your boss may hesitate agreeing with you openly (to save a bit of money), they really agree with what you are saying.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .