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Recently, I was interviewed for a senior position in a well-known company. The interview process was smooth and pleasant but challenging from the technical perspective. In the end, I received an offer with the salary that was exactly the minimum of the salary range I had asked for.

However, the surprising part was that in the contract, the title did not mention the seniority of the position. When I mentioned this to the hiring manager, he said that is because the company does not actually have a senior level in its organisational chart but instead, there is an internal ranking system for employees and in that system, I will be given a senior rank.

Honestly, I saw this as a red flag but because of the pleasant recruiting process, I accepted the offer. Upon joining, I checked that in the internal ranking system, I was actually given a senior level rank but after a month, the hiring manager contacted me and told me that because of my low salary, they have to lower my rank.

And basically, in the new company, I am not at a senior level and I am not paid well. But the worst thing is that I feel I have been cheated and I cannot shake the feeling that I cannot trust the company and colleagues anymore. Am I overreacting and this is a common thing (first time it happened to me though)?

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    What did you get cheated out of? What would you get, if someone handed you a big medal reading "chief boss senior whatever"? In other words, are you missing more than just a title in an internal system nobody else will ever see?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 14:03
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    Does the lowering of grade change anything about the actual job? Do you have less responsibilities now? Will you be held to a different standard in any annual appraisal? Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 14:24
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    But you got the salary you asked for. It's not like they offered you a lower salary than the one you asked. Now you know that you should have negotiated a way higher salary, since the salary you asked is too low for a senior position. Take this as a learning lesson for your future interviews.
    – Elerium115
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 14:30
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    You will always get the minimum of a range (at best). Don't give ranges. Give your expectation. Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 15:30
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    Side note: you may want clarify (mostly for yourself, but updating the question with this info would be good too) with manager/HR what that change actually mean for you. I.e. it may mean that for next salary review you'll be compared to people who are not as senior than you and you'll be give 100x bonuses/raises as you soo much outperform them or maybe other way around your raises will be in 1% range because it's "junior" level vs. 10% for senior... Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 18:53

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This question is a bit subjective - in general, we are not allowed to advise on specific choices such as "should I quit?" on this forum. However:

The title not including a senior position is a little weird, but nothing to be alarmed over. And titles themselves should in general matter very little to you. However, they chose to pay you a certain amount when they hired you for this role, and now they're claiming that the pay is too low for this role so instead of increasing your pay they're demoting you and assumingly reducing your responsibilities?? That is a major red flag to how this company treats its employees, and now that the trust is gone I do not see how you could stay there and be happy. Separately, it sounds like you are now in a less senior role than you were originally looking for with lower pay so... based on that alone yes, go look for a new role that reflects what you want to be doing.

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  • While the title may matter "very little to him" right now, they do matter when the OP will look for another job where he'll be percieved as a person that didn't work as senior developer and doesn't have senior developer experience. This will lover their future career success and progression. Titles don't matter for current job, they matter for the next one.
    – Mavrik
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 12:37
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First, I get that you feel cheated. That feeling is an important thing, and you should consider if you want to work at a place where you feel unhappy. The way the job market looks now, you probably have other choices.

Second, it is my personal impression that the semi-formalized use of junior, intermediate (or professional), and senior positions came from the English-speaking world and that it had belated and uneven adoption in Germany, in part because what the US calls salaried contracts were used even for very junior positions (fixed number of hours per nominal workday, but the monthly payment does not depend on the number of working days in a given month).

For a big German company, check if they have a Tarifvertrag and which, if any Tarifgruppe you are in. One may also be in a Tarifgruppe with negotiated extra pay on top. Is this the internal ranking you refer to? That would be somewhat separate from the level of responsibility you get in day-to-day work.

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    Even in the English speaking (IT) world the adoption of those titles is patchy. In some places it can indicate concrete things (pay, responsibilities), in others it indicates nothing significant, in others it doesn't exist and in others it just incdiates what the HRs policy was in the particular month you jouned Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 7:24
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In the end, I received an offer with the salary that was exactly the minimum of the salary range I had asked for.

Never give a range. When you give a range of low to high, you are telling them that the bottom of the range is good enough.

after a month, the hiring manager contacted me and told me that because of my low salary, they have to lower my rank.

This is mixed news.

If they have decided to pay you X as a new employee, you want to be at the bottom of the pay range for that job description. There is more room for growth. If they are paying you 50K, and the range for one position is 50K to 60K and the other is 42K to 52K. I would prefer to be in the 50K to 60K position.

But they put you in the lower position. You might be up against the top of the band. You raise next year could be limited by this.

You will have to work harder to get the position at the higher level because they will see it as a promotion. Promotions frequently see a larger bump in pay to get you to the next pay band.

It is possible when they set your pay you were doomed because it was below the lowest level of the band.

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  • Apart from the pay, which they were initially happy with, I'm unclear what the lower position means apart from a label in some HR system Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 14:56
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I actually would see this as a positive thing;

You accepted an offer at a salary you were prepared to accept, at a "senior" level. Then they have moved you onto a lower level of seniority with the same salary.

This means that there is now scope for you to be promoted to that senior level, and get a pay rise with the promotion. This would not be possible if were still at the higher level.

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IMHO Offer, in most cases, are on the lowest side in consideration of upcoming negotiations. It`s industry trend and have no bearing on any particular company. One of the reasons recruiters are so rampant in the industry :) You didn't negotiate and in this particular case, I can suggest 2 options

  1. In case you like the job and company - Raise the issue of salary and title with HR or your superiors
  2. Search for another job and negotiate, given you have current position, leave current company when receive a desired offer and mention "deception" on exit interview if you like
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To me, it sounded like you cheated yourself. Why did you accept such an offer? Its kind of terrible. Find a new job and negotiate better with the next offer. Do you have a friend that is good at negotiation? Seek them for advice or read some books.

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  • Apart from the pay, which they were initially happy with, I'm unclear what the lower position means apart from a label in some HR system. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 14:56
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    @mattfreake the tone of the op suggested, to me, that they were barely happy with the pay. It was at the bottom end of their zone. They should have increased their zone or asked for more money. Had they done so it would have changed the rating issue as I understand it. Still its a strange system.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 16:45

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