This is my current situation.

I am working for a company which I very much like. Currently I am being trained to be a developer aswell as doing some mathmetical research in my boss' systems.

I was an intern here and created some algorithms, which need further development. I got that assigned to me, but I have to learn some more about my programming language (PHP OOP) before I can actually develop the algorithms.

I am also setting up a data-mining environment. I have to set up some meeting with company's who sell their software and select which software I would like to work with. Afterwards our financial director will make the call.

As of now I barely am making a difference for my company, but I am planting the seeds to make a big difference for my company.

They are planning to giving me a new contract as soon as this one expires. After been given kind of a trial period, to see if it would work out between me and the company Currently I am not being paid much as a post-grad student and would like to earn more.

How can I ask for more salary while at the moment all I am doing isn't adding a lot of value, while potentially I can add (a lot) value?

3 Answers 3


Why do you say you are not adding value to the company? It sounds like you are doing work that will make your company more money in the future. Just because you are not earning money this year it doesn't mean you are not adding value (that's why people talk about 'adding value' rather than 'generating profits', which are more of a short term thing).

If you think the work you are doing now will make the company better in the future, go to your meeting ready to explain that. Perhaps you should also talk to the financial director and get some pointers for how he thinks this data mining project will benefit the company.

Other reasons why you might be worth more in the next year than the last one include:

  1. You've demonstrated your ability to do good work, whereas last year they were taking a chance
  2. You've learned more about how the company works, so you are ready to be more productive in the future
  3. You know more about the programming tools and methods used than you did last year.

Ultimately your offer will depend on how much the company agrees with this.


Unless you can prove you are worth more, you will have a hard time earning more. What you can do is make a note of all of the items you are working on that you think will bear fruit in the coming months/years.

By keeping track of these items, you can bring them up at the end of each review period. If they do provide the benefits you expect they will, they will provide great justification for a raise or promotion.

At this point, you need to plan and be patient. If you follow through and deliver value to the company, hopefully they will recognize it (with your pointing) and reward you accordingly.

  • You mean worth more to the company or my worth in general?
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 7:21
  • 1
    Company, because they didn't hire you for any other reason than to use you for their gain. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 14:20
  • that's true. What about Dj's answer? Doesn't he have a point?
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 14:23
  • As a previous hiring manager, #1: "look at me, I am working every day and doing what you told me" falls under "Meets expectations" (AKA "doing your job") and not "Exceeds expectations". #2 and #3 are all expectations of a junior programmer, that s/he will learn about the company and the toolset. Maybe after 3 years of doing that, you'll get a promotion to Programmer, but that is not exceeding expectations in my book, and does not warrant anything other than a cost of living raise. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 14:29
  • How would one know I am not exceeding expectations? There's a time frame for everything that has to be set up. While not adding direct profit, having set up these projects earlier, should give profit earlier than expected = exceeding expectations?
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 15:14

You are not an investor in the company. You are paid to do work and from what I can tell, you are not on any type of commission or bonus based on some performance. That work may provide value now or in the future. There is less risk to the company if they wait until the work you do actually produces any revenue/creates savings and then compensate you at that time instead of paying you now and it may all be worthless. If you require to be compensated now, you'll probably get less than in the long-run if you're willing to wait. It's a risk; no guarantee. Time is money for a reason.

Anyone could argue that their labor will generate a million dollars. If the company pays you all of that amount, they make no profit, so you're only going to get less. But how much less?

There are a few factors here:

  • How much can you convince them your contribution is responsible for the money?
  • How much are you willing to accept before you decline to do the work? This could be based on how much you can get working somewhere else.
  • How much could they pay someone else?

The last one is tough. Obviously most people can generate a million dollars in revenue. What is the risk of losing you and having to hire, train and get someone else to do the work?

Changes are you can't answer all of these because it is too hard to predict exact numbers. A lot is risk, speculation, guessing and who will hold out for more, you or your manager?

Don't sell these tasks short. Do some research on what others make. Your lack of experience is a limitation, but think more about the type of work you're doing and not just your job title. Be willing to negotiate and ask for more money. Changes are if you don't ask, you won't get it.

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