I started a new job in a team leading position in a new company two months ago. The new company is still quite young but growing substantially (now 400+ employees). In my new role as a team lead I have more responsibility and am able to manage a team. This new role came with a substantial pay cut and the salary is well below the industry average. During the interview phase I negotiated the salary to an extent where they would not go any higher, due to the fact that they simply could not afford the higher salary demands (so they said). Despite the cut I took the job due to the experience I will gain from it.

Now that I have started the job I can see that finances are readily available and cost saving is only a secondary priority at the moment. I feel quite cheated and am not sure what steps to take next. Is anyone able to advise me here?

I want to talk to my manager with facts (e.g. salary comparisons, cost saving potentials in the company). However, as I feel the relationship does not feel honest I am also thinking of quitting the job and starting fresh in a new company (thus most likely taking a step back in the hierarchy again). Any thoughts or hints are greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance!

  • 23
    You do more work for less money. Great deal for your employer. On the plus side for you, you also gained something now: experience points. It's time to level up. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:34
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    A team lead position giving you more responsibility than you had before should never be a pay cut. Walk away from anyone who tries to pull that crap with a "can't afford it" line.
    – berry120
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 23:00
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    I'm not sure I understand your problem. You knew upfront that taking the job would result in a pay cut, but decided to take the job anyways for experience. Now that you've started, you're mad about the pay cut?
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 16:21
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    This isn't a "pay cut". Your prior salary is of no concern to your new employer. Indeed, in many jurisdictions, they are not permitted to ask for your previous salary. They made you an offer. You accepted it. The company's current financial state is irrelevant. In addition, I would hazard a guess that you are not in full position of all of the facts of their current and future financial plans and obligations. Just because there is case available does not mean that it is available for your pocket.
    – Dancrumb
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 16:21
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    @Dancrumb. Spoken from the point of view of the company. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 16:49

8 Answers 8


Good luck. You demonstrated that you would work for less money. And they will take advantage of this as long as they can. Find a job elsewhere. Dump them. Then you will get paid market rate, and so will your successor.

  • 48
    "I'd like two beers. Here's five experience." Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 5:24
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    @JoeStrazzere It appears they demonstrated that they thought they would work for less money in exchange for experience, but now realize they would work for more money and experience. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 6:15
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    @Mär There's more to life than beer. Well, sorta... Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 11:14
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    @Mär I'll give you three beers if you throw in some exposure. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 15:39
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    @Upper_Case Given the countless posts on this site which outline that exact situation and no materialization of enlarged remuneration I would say there is little/no significant difference between the current situation and your comment. You agree to work for less so they pay you less; that's how things work.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 20:19

I feel quite cheated.

You knew very well going in that you are going to be "underpaid" but decided to take it as experience anyway. Where is the cheating part? You knew fully well what you are signing up for.

I want to talk to my manager with facts (e.g. salary comparisons, cost saving potentials in the company).

That's something you've only very recently done when accepting the job. Wanting to renegotiate a deal you've signed two months ago is going to look weak and maybe even unprofessional.

However, as I feel the relationship does not feel honest I am also thinking of quitting the job and starting fresh in a new company

That is also what will shine through if you will attempt to renegotiate your salary now, and your boss will pick up on that you want out. Not a good thing at the very start of working relationships.

Is anyone able to advise me here?

Keep doing your job, mouth shut about the money, update your resume and see if you can get a better offer in the same position to gain the same experience. If you can, move on to it, or use it to leverage a better salary with the current company. If not, then you are likely being paid your market value right now.

It's also important to point out that just because the company has the money that doesn't mean it's money which is/was available for your employment. Organizations where people go into hundreds+ usually have very tight budgets locked for each position, and it rarely has a wiggle room.

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    "Where is the cheating part?" - it sounds like the company lied during the recruitment/negotiation process. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:40
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    You can feel cheated even if everything is perfectly legal. For example, if employee A is paid twice as much as B for the same work because A is good at negotiating and B us not, B will feel cheated.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 22:33
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    Wanting to renegotiate a deal you've signed two months ago is going to look weak and maybe even unprofessional. - Maybe so, but given thoughts by OP of quitting over it, he seems to not have anything/much to lose. And also: I would not consider re-negotiating an existing deal after gaining new information as unprofessional; more over, I would regard it as a sign of maturity and assertiveness that someone will act upon information (even if it might step on another's toe's).
    – rkeet
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:23
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    @rkeet the conversation will likely go like that: "I want a massive pay rise because in my 2 months here I learned that the company sleeps on the money, not because I made it 5 billion dollars to justify it. Gimme or I quit. And no, I don't have any other offer on the table.". To which the boss will respond with "No" and start looking for OPs replacement right away, and lose any and all trust in OP as he has already broken the once signed contract, which means he cannot be trusted to not do it again.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:42
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    @P.Hopkinson When a company says they "can't afford" something, that means the asking price is too high, not that the company will go bankrupt if they they spend the money. The company hasn't lied at all, they correctly told the OP that they don't have the money to give to him, which is absolutely accurate - regardless of whether they have money, they don't have money for him. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 14:27

The time to renegotiate salary is at the next standard negotiation window.

If you have proven your value between starting and then you have a case to make.

Right now you are only two months out from a completed negotiation and I very much doubt you’ve had a chance to prove yourself in that time.

If you can’t bear to live with the salary you agreed to until the next negotiation window resign immediately and let everyone, including yourself get on with your life.

  • 7
    (Find a new job first. THEN resign immediately.)
    – Raydot
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 0:21
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    @Dave Kanter - I am not sure you understand what “immediately” means.
    – jwpfox
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 0:24
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    pretty sure I do. Perhaps this comment is a bit tongue-and-cheek?
    – Raydot
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 0:32

... they simply could not afford the higher salary demands (so they said) ... I can see that finances are readily available and cost saving is only a secondary priority ... I feel quite cheated ...

I understand why you feel cheated. However, unless they specifically said they would have paid you more if they had more money, they did not lie to you. I think your actual issue here is misinterpretation of the word "afford". The salary that they offered you is what they could afford to spend on your salary. It doesn't mean they don't have any more money left.

... am not sure what steps to take next. Is anyone able to advise me here?

Your next step should be to understand what you actually want. You say you agreed on the lower salary due to the experience you would gain from the role. Does this not hold any more? Do you now see the experience is not actually worth the salary you chose to forgo? If you didn't know about the company's finances, would your answer be different?

If your initial goal of gaining experience is still valid and you are on track, then there's nothing you need to do other than focusing on your job. You had agreed to work for them in return for things you consider beneficial, namely (1) salary and (2) experience. How much more money the company has doesn't change it.

If you now see that the experience is not good enough to compensate for the salary difference, then you should have a discussion with your manager about how the work experience can be brought in line with your expectation. What this actually entails is too specific to your actual work and situation.

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    Another thing is: while it would be nice for the janitor to make $100,000/mo, it would effectively be a trap because he could never afford to leave the job, no matter how unpleasant it became. This pressure could be used to get the janitor to do illegal things too, because they couldn't afford to walk away from it.
    – user62890
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 15:43
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    @Michael That was an exaggeration to emphasize the point. "company said they can't afford to pay me more" and "company is paying below the market rate" might overlap in this case, but they are two different issues. Besides, the OP doesn't mention "market rate" at all, he is just comparing his current salary with the one at the previous company where he was playing a different role (so we cannot conclude directly that he is paid below market rate). So your objection to my analogy (while valid by itself) doesn't work in the OP's context. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 17:33
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    @UchihaMadara "the salary is well below the industry average" market rate == industry average
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 17:34
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    @Hosch250 Why do you quote things out of context to draw unintended inferences? Read the two lines above that example. The purpose of that example was to illustrate how the word "afford" was misinterpreted. I don't know why you go so far down the slippery slope to suggest the company would ask the employee to do illegal things, none of which is relevant to the OP's question. Anyway I have removed that example entirely now. Sheesh, people, just read the entire answer, not just one sentence and jump to strange conclusions. Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 3:35
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    @iheanyi they aren't that different, especially if the manager hiring you isn't the same one setting the budgets. If he only gets a budget of X to pay with you then both statements can be true. He can't pay you more because the company isn't willing to budget more than X
    – J.Doe
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 16:30

Despite the cut I took the job due to the experience I will gain from it.

Lot of times this is pretty standard when you are trying to change career. You've seen the opportunity to advance the career to the field you might not fully qualify today and decided that in long term it would pay off.

Is anyone able to advise me here?

If finances is not really pressing issue and you are just hurt that you are "below the industry standard" I would suggest you set this feeling aside for now and try your best to do your job as best as you can: participate in as much projects you can, try to get a best results and invest some time into education in the field. Keep doing that for two-three years and then put every achievement and every successful project on your resume and be a bit more aggressive with your next negotiation. I have been in similar situation some years ago: I accepted a job offer for a salary that was a bit below the standard for the position but it was an opportunity to go into a bit different field without qualifying experience. Three years later (which were fantastic years: I have learned a lot, participated in a great projects and grew professionally really high) I've got a job that was about 40% more that what I had at the time (and put me a bit higher than standard for a more senior position that I had in my 1st company). Now since almost 10 years passed since that time only thing that comes to my mind that it was a huge luck that I had this opportunity and I took it.


Despite the cut I took the job due to the experience I will gain from it

Salary is not a function of maximum money available to the company, it's a function of minimum money acceptable by the employee. The market rate is simply the average minimum acceptable salary for a particular job across all employees in your field.

That minimum is obviously going to change from person to person, and depend upon things like experience. When people take below market rate, it means their minimum is lower than the average candidate's, owing to some compensating factor usually. In your case, it's that you don't have any experience yet of this type of role, but have the opportunity to gain a year of that experience for each year you take this pay cut.

You made that analysis and that decision. The only relevant question for you is did your reasoning change since you took the job? Would you go back to your old job now and forego the experience to regain the extra salary? If yes, you should probably do that. If no, then continue in this new job.

There is also a third option - if you've simply discovered that this job pays below market rate even factoring in your lack of experience - in that case, yes you should probably just start looking elsewhere if you'd like the opportunity to gain similar experience for more money. I say that because renegotiating immediately for more money after you accepted an offer is extremely unlikely to work out well, and it's honestly better to discount it. You could try, but you shouldn't expect to succeed.

If you stay what will change over time is your improved opportunities and market value with the experience you've gained, and hence the marginal value of an extra year's experience. At that point, you can go to your manager with those facts, make the case for a pay rise, and probably get one.


I've not seen this mentioned anywhere, but usually when the company is young, and can't afford the top talent at the market rates, is that they offer stock compensation instead. Did you receive any stock options? If not then absolutely you should go ahead and renegotiate.

However the company was not decitful - they were honest about you earning low wage, and that you'd be basically trading the money for expirience. If you feel you're not happy about the deal, you should either renegotiate or change the job.


The other answers deal more with the practical side. While I agree with them (I think Timoteusz Paul made most of the salient points), I would like to note that your feeling of resentment and being cheated will undoubtedly in some way impact your life negatively, until these things are resolved in your mind.

So, I would like to add to Timoteusz Paul's part of where he notes that the fact the money is present in company doesn't mean it is available for your salary.

It actually might be and you might be taken advantage of. But it might well be not, as others pointed out. In fact, it is generally a good sign that money is available in company -- it indicates the company seems to be doing well and you have less risk of eg unpaid or delayed salary. Rather important for startups especially, but not only them.

But before you make conclusions, you should have a certain level of understanding of what the company is, how it is run and what the people are like in it.

If you and others are underpaid (compared to industry average for the experience and job) it might mean the company is putting the money in growing. Or not.

For me, an indicator of problems in this case would only be excessive personal consumption by the owners/top management.

If they can't pay their people, but take the money out for luxury spending, the job simply doesn't look good for you in future, as you will be expected to continue furnishing their lavish lifestyle with the extra money they get by paying you below average salary.

If it is not the case, it would indicate you are not taken an advantage of and have no real reason to feel cheated. Unless you are being paid much lower than others in the same company in the same role. However, comparing yourself to others is frequently counterproductive, and the other answers still stand in that you know what you negotiated and why in fact you did take the position.

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