I was hired a few years ago as a Senior Engineer and was excited to accept the offer, the pay was much better than my previous job so I accepted the new offer without negotiating salary nor did I think there was room for one. A few months later I was part of the hiring committee that hired another Engineer (within the same dept but for a different team, but we work closely together). After the new Engineer started working with us, it became apparent that their programming skill was not really that great beyond attempts to just make something work, which oftentimes is a brute-force approach. Many times they come to me for troubleshooting their own code issues even for solutions that would only require a simple Google search.

After a while, the new Engineer was asked to report to me indirectly so that I sort of "mentor" them, so I set up regular meetings with them to go over tasks and do some pair programming. After a while, I stopped having these meetings because it was pretty much useless and a waste of both our times. At this point, the dept's upper management decided to move her to my team. While all this was happening, I became aware that they are paid more than me, and I'm certain they did not negotiate their salary as well. This disparity was initially brought up by the manager we both report to and was acknowledged by me as a concern. They also made it known to me that when I was hired, I was presented with the salary lower bound for the position (with the expectation of me possibly negotiating), while the new Engineer was presented with the upper bound (which meant that they could not have negotiated a higher pay even if they tried to).

During our subsequent "mandatory" salary increase for the next fiscal year, everyone got the standard % increase, and I got 2x that in an attempt to close the gap, with a view of eventually surpassing them with subsequent 2x increases, this was my understanding. A new salary increase was recently announced and to my surprise, we both got the same % increase, which is different from my previous understanding. Going at this same increase rate, the gap will begin to widen. I lead way more projects within the dept and do more collaboration with outside depts.

I plan on bringing up this discussion ASAP with the manager but really unsure of what my approach should be given that there was never a written agreement. Or even if it is worth bringing it up at all.

I'm located in the US.

I'll appreciate some perspective on this issue.

  • Let's see if I understand. There was a "mandatory" increase and you got twice what everybody else got. Then there was an additional "bonus" increase where everybody got the same percentage? Or was the "new salary increase" you talk about the next year's "mandatory" increase? Jun 23, 2023 at 15:34
  • @DJClayworth 2022 I got twice the mandatory increase. 2023, the increase (twice the standard increase) to level up the gap between me and the new Engineer is not given.
    – hello
    Jun 23, 2023 at 15:45
  • Perhaps her inter-personnel skills are better than yours. Aug 3, 2023 at 6:27

4 Answers 4


If you think that you were promised additional pay increases over several years, and you didn't get that, that is certainly worth bringing up with your manager. The reasons for the increase are irrelevant - if you thought you were going to get an increase and you didn't, then you should ask.

However be sure in your own mind that you were promised increases for several years, and you weren't just reading that into the situation. Your manager might have only meant to give you a single increase. When did you think the extra increases were going to stop? In any case don't be confrontational about it.

It's absolutely normal for a company to give you some pay increase when you tell them you want more money. It doesn't mean they are going to give you everything you ask for. It's also OK to ask again if you still think you aren't being paid enough.

  • I thought the increase would stop after I start earning more than the new Engineer. If not, the rationale for the one-off 2x increase just does not make sense to me, given the context for which it was initially given.
    – hello
    Jun 23, 2023 at 16:08
  • 1
    Did they tell you the increases would continue until you earned more than the new engineer? Or did you just assume that? The rationale for a single 2x increase would be because they thought you were worth more than you were being paid, but not as much as the new engineer. Jun 23, 2023 at 16:39
  • There's no email trail or anything stating such (my mistake), but it was talked about by the manager when they brought up the pay disparity. How can you be worth less than a new recruit if you were asked to "mentor" them on the job they were hired to do? As much as they do not owe me any explanation (sensible or not) it just seem a bit odd to me, at least.
    – hello
    Jun 23, 2023 at 16:46
  • There's a difference between "it was talked about" and "they said they would do it". But if you think that's what you were promised it's at least worth asking. Jun 23, 2023 at 18:15

Stop comparing your salary to theirs. Stop comparing your skillset to theirs. Stop comparing your responsibilities to theirs. None of that matters.

Ask for the salary you want. If you don't get it then you can either accept what you have and stay or leave for a better paying position elsewhere.

In non-union professions there are many pay disparities that don't seem right or fair. It doesn't matter. Fair is subjective. There is no concept of fair. Ask for what you want. That is your only recourse.

  • 4
    The concept of "fairness" is pretty much central to the business of being human. Jun 23, 2023 at 18:20
  • 2
    Actually you do. If you promote the idea that things in the workplace don't need to be fair, you make the workplace ( and thus life) worse. Jun 24, 2023 at 1:13
  • 1
    @DJClayworth, I didn't say that things don't need to be fair, I said that they aren't fair. I'm not promoting an idea, I'm stating a matter of fact. I, like you, wish that all things were fair, but they aren't.
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 24, 2023 at 14:11
  • 1
    I "want" 10 million dollars per year. I know I won't get that, so I need to establish my value. The only realistic way of establishing my value is to compare my own performance and skillset with others, and by knowing what they earn.
    – Chris_abc
    Jun 25, 2023 at 10:14
  • 1
    @JoeQwerty What you actually said was "There is no concept of fair". If you want to walk that back, good for you. But if you don't mean that then I suggest editing the answer. Because some people will believe what you wrote. Then they act on it. Then the world becomes a worse place. Jun 25, 2023 at 12:39

You admittedly accepted the offer that the company gave you without negotiation. Months later, likely with a different hiring budget, the company offered a different employee more money for more or less the same role as yourself. This is simply the way that almost every company operates.

Unless your responsibilities have significantly changed to warrant an increase in your salary, you do not have much ground to stand on in proposing a salary increase to your manager. The fact that there exists some other employee who does the same or less work than you and is as productive or less productive than you yet they are making more money has no bearing on your value to the company.

You can speak to the manager, but very few managers will increase an employee salary just because that employee feels like they should be making more than some other employee. You need to sell yourself and what you have produced for the company for any hope of a salary increase. In every single company I have worked for, new employees were hired for more money than existing employees performing the same roles.

  • Thanks for your response. My initial rationale for wanting to bring this up with the manager was to understand why they gave 2x the increase last year knowing fully well that it would take a few more of such 2x increases to level the pay gap, but then not continue to give it after the first one.
    – hello
    Jun 23, 2023 at 15:52
  • Note that folks may be hired at above market rate to get them to commit, then may get smaller raises until that's adjusted for. Especially in companies with some mostly-functioning flavor of merit pay.
    – keshlam
    Jun 24, 2023 at 19:50

It's understandable that you're concerned about the salary disparity and want to address the issue. Here's a suggested approach for discussing it with your manager:

  1. Prepare your case: Compile a list of your accomplishments, projects you've led, and collaborations you've undertaken within the department. Highlight the value you've brought to the organization and the additional responsibilities you've taken on.

  2. Research salary benchmarks: Look into industry standards and salary ranges for your position and level of experience. This will help you provide evidence-based information to support your case for a salary adjustment.

  3. Request a meeting with your manager: Reach out to your manager and request a meeting to discuss your concerns regarding the salary discrepancy. Clearly express your desire to address the issue and provide a brief overview of the points you'd like to discuss during the meeting.

  4. Present your case: During the meeting, calmly and professionally explain your observations about the discrepancy and how it impacts your motivation and job satisfaction. Share your achievements, increased responsibilities, and the additional value you've brought to the team. Emphasize the fairness and equity aspects of the discussion rather than focusing solely on the other engineer's performance.

  5. Propose a solution: Based on your research and accomplishments, suggest a salary adjustment that you believe reflects your contributions to the organization. This can be a specific percentage increase or a range aligned with industry standards. Be open to negotiation and alternative solutions that your manager might propose.

  6. Remain open to feedback: Your manager may have valid reasons for the salary difference or may need time to address the issue. Listen to their perspective and consider any feedback they provide. It's important to maintain a constructive and professional dialogue throughout the discussion.

Remember, approaching the conversation with professionalism and a focus on your contributions and value to the organization will strengthen your case. Good luck with your discussion, and I hope you're able to reach a satisfactory resolution.

  • 3
    This is shockingly low quality answer likely generated by an AI LLM like ChatGPT
    – Donald
    Jun 26, 2023 at 20:14

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