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I am a C# developer, I consider myself to be on the higher end of mid-level, but my salary is very low for this, I'd estimate it's about on par with a decently paid entry level position. However, My boss is going to recommend me for a promotion to team lead. I have a great relationship with him and our higher-ups fully recognize the value of our product and what it could become. I know internally I have added a lot of value to the team, and I am sure my boss feels the same way, so I am not worried about getting this promotion. My concern now is making sure my compensation is based on median salary for a team lead, rather than viewed as an increase on what I am currently compensated

My issue is that the median salary for a team lead is very nearly 6-figures in my area and would mean a ~60% salary increase. Additionally, I found several median salaries for my current position and taking the median of them results in roughly a 30% salary increase. These are significant increases but I suppose that would not be unprecedented, even for me specifically, as when I was initially offered this position full-time I was able to negotiate $20k more than my initial offer, which was a 50% increase

Now back to my question(s), what should I do to give myself the best chance of negotiating a significant salary increase? I have a few parts to my question; Should I talk to my boss and give him my expectation for compensation of this position, or wait until I am given an offer and counter? Should I set my final compensation initially, or offer a smaller increase and an aggressive raise strategy so that I could meet the median in 3 years? My promotion will likely not be finalized until a good amount of time after our annual reviews, should I try to negotiate my current salary be matched to the median so I am getting paid better until my promotion is complete?

Thanks for any advice

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  • I do not want to leave the company but I am willing to because the reason I work hard and create value at work is to provide for myself and my family and I will have the compensation we need, whether it's with my current company or somewhere else. I recognize that I would be a new team lead and I am willing to adjust my expectation accordingly, but it is mostly a change in job title, I am already doing almost all the tasks from my new job description. The only new item is better tracking of metrics so we can measure value added by our team in reports to higher-ups Sep 26 at 18:20
  • I want to add that without a very significant salary increase, my salary would be very low, nearly at the lowest end of the scale for a team lead. Additionally, I have already done a "trial run". When my boss initially asked me if I was willing to take on extra duties he mentioned that if I do well it may result in a promotion. As he is now, months later, asking me if I am ok with him recommending me for promotion, I can only assume that I passed his expectations Sep 26 at 18:26
  • Does this answer your question? How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Sep 26 at 20:20
  • You already had to negotiate a 50% increase for your initial offer, and then still end up being "extremely low" in pay? What exactly did they offer? Minimum wage? What caused you to not walk from a low-ball offer like that?
    – Nelson
    Sep 27 at 0:30
  • Some general suggestions on salary negotiations - workplace.stackexchange.com/a/178488/124245 .
    – sfxedit
    Sep 27 at 8:45
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You should come up with a number that would cause you to stay, and tell your boss that you expect this number as part of your upcoming promotion.

Do it now, as this sort of very large increase will cost your boss a lot of political capital, and likely take a lot of work to get through.

Meanwhile, update your resume and refresh your professional network. 60% increases don't usually happen. Be ready when you get less than you want.

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  • I like your response, I tried vote up but my rep is too low on this exchange. My minimum number would still be a hard sell but I think much more achievable as it is only the median for someone at my level and I would essentially be getting promoted to an even higher level. I can then further assure my boss that I will continue to work hard and earn my raises to bring me up to the median salary Sep 26 at 18:54
  • @DreadedEntity if this answer works for you, you can click the checkmark next to it to "accept" it, which is kinda a super-upvote. (note that you can do both) Sep 26 at 19:14
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    I would like to leave the question open for a while longer in case there are any other answers. I also want to know how to approach all of this considering our annual reviews are about to be held. I do not want to have a potential raise lost due to a pending promotion, which may or may not even go through Sep 26 at 21:31
  • The wording "minimum number would be a hard sell" is pretty scary for me on your behalf. You should get paid what you're worth, not what you feel a company could minimally afford to pay you. If they're not willing to pay a reasonable salary for your position/experience, I would seriously consider looking for another job. Sep 27 at 1:43
  • Just coming up with a number isn't really enough - you need to be able to justify that number by pointing to what other companies are paying. Take time to gather evidence, then present management with what you feel you are owed (and as the answer says, don't expect an immediate answer).
    – Stuart F
    Sep 27 at 10:56
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Now back to my question(s), what should I do to give myself the best chance of negotiating a significant salary increase?

Get another job that pays what you expect and see if your current employer will match it. Be prepared to leave.

If you feel you're significantly underpaid, start job searching. Finding out what people will pay you is the best and most accurate way to determine what you should be paid.

Talk to recruiters to determine what "a good salary" is for a lead developer in your area. You can also use online salary calculators, but they are ball-park figures at best. Recruiters know your city better than a page on the internet and can help you know where you really stand salary-wise. You can do this even if you're not going to job-search (which you likely should).

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  • There are always a lot of debates about whether it's a good idea to give your bosses this sort of ultimatum: are you burning bridges with your current employer? Also, saying "get another job" is easier said than done.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 27 at 10:54
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As others already stated you might need to leave for a huge increase. One can expect about 30% more when switching jobs (after about 5 years of staying at a company).

But there is another way if you want to stay:

You could negotiate that they pay the salary that you want in the future, if a 60% increase is not possible immedately. Get a contract that promises like a 10% increase per year so you get the salary you want in about 5 years or something like that.

That way you could stay, have a guaranteed raise every year and will get the payment you want, just not immediately.

In my personal opinion though, you should switch jobs. You get a lot more, experience something new and you will probably also increase your skills.

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    The 60% raise is fair in terms of 2021 money. So if you get the 60% raise in 2026 you'd probably be underpaid by then and almost certainly you'll be underpaid every year between now and then. This is not a good idea.
    – STT LCU
    Sep 27 at 8:58
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    @STTLCU it was just a thought IF OP wanted to stay by all means and their workplace cannot offer the money immedately. The specifics could also differ vastly. I for one got a 30% raise and got in my contract that I get 10% each year until I have reached the negotiated salary. The company just couldnt afford me and justify the salary from the start. I do get paid less right now than others but will have more in about 3 years, because others only get about 2-3% raise per year.
    – bibleblade
    Sep 27 at 9:02
  • @STTLCU I mean OP was talking about almost 6 figures and it would be an 60% increase, so OP makes around 60-70k. With a 10% yearly increase you would gain more in 2026. With an upfront raise and a 10% increase OP would be around 120k a year in 2026. Dont know if that is underpaid?
    – bibleblade
    Sep 27 at 9:06

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