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Background: SE, work for a government office somewhere in the USA, not in an area with a ton of other employers for SEs. My background makes me very suited for government work.

I was hired as a contract employee for a government agency to do software, and told that we'd never lose the contract. One year after I start, contract is lost, goes to a new contracting firm, and the new prime is perfectly happy to take me. No sweat, wasn't a super big fan of the firm that originally hired me anyways.

I get a call from the new prime, talk to me a bit, get some information from me, and tell me to expect a new contract by EOB. I made one mistake on the call since it was early: they asked for my current salary and I gave it to them.

I get the contract, and no surprise, the offer is at my current salary. I was hoping for a slight pay bump because since I started working I received commendations from my customer(my name being top billed), and racked up some certificates (the US government loves certificates), which I feel is worth a little more than what I'm making.

I never pressed my previous employer for a raise because I figured they would lose the contract before too long, and you can't squeeze blood from a rock.

The last twist is that there is a time crunch: it would be to everyone's benefit if I transfer to the new company by the end of January to prevent any employment gaps, and my new employer would love to see me sign the offer ASAP. Is it worth trying to haggle this pay bump out of them, or did I blow my chance by telling them my actual salary? I am not super concerned that they will just replace me: not a lot of viable replacements available for my kind of work.

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    Can't hurt to ask, doubtful they would be offended. But they might put up more resistance, especially if they know your development at the old place is now limited by the contract moving away
    – Pete W
    Dec 14, 2021 at 1:12
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    They didn't ask you what salary you expected or wanted, they asked you what your current salary is and you told them. There's absolutely nothing wrong with negotiating a raise.
    – joeqwerty
    Dec 14, 2021 at 1:51
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    Of course, you negotiate a higher raise. What kind of question is that? At the same time, don't be lazy. Send out your resume and be proactive about finding another potential employer (even if there are very few in your area). See what's out there. Dec 14, 2021 at 2:01
  • I can see that you're perhaps a little bit anxious about asking, indeed this kind of question can be hard for some to raise. But really its like ripping off the bandaid the faster you do it the better. Like others have commented here there is nothing to be lost by asking, if they say no, they are still likely to hire you at the previous offer. What could help is floating your CV out there, getting some other interested parties, just so you have the confidence to say you have other offers at a higher level.
    – Lukas_T
    Dec 14, 2021 at 10:53
  • I wouldn't hold to much weight on those certificates. They are likely not worth very much outside of government wanting them, and if government wants them, they are likely required.
    – Donald
    Dec 14, 2021 at 15:21

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I am not super concerned that they will just replace me: not a lot of viable replacements available for my kind of work.

I think you've answered your own question; You are in a fantastic position to negotiate a higher salary. You have a rare skillset that is well suited to your employer. You have commendations and certs that help demonstrate your value. You even have project-specific knowledge that would give you a head-start over other candidates. Get paid what you're worth.

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