I work in a scientific field, and my position required a PhD degree with job experience. So, I was hired as an experienced scientist. To be precise, I came to the organization with a PhD degree and 6 years of work experience.

Few months after I joined the team, we hired a new employee, and I also happened to be in the hiring committee. So, the new hire and I work in the same team. My colleague was hired fresh off the grad school, so has a PhD degree and no job experience. However, we both have PhD in the same discipline. Beyond doubt, all team members know that I have skills which I acquired over 5+ years of my post PhD job experiences, and my colleague is starting in our team with only a graduate research experience. Further, I also happen to be helping my new colleague to learn skill sets that are necessary in our team.

Perhaps no one in my team would expect this new hire to have higher salary than me. I would expect my colleague to have salary that is lesser or similar to mine. However, I came across a document (a mortgage application) that shows my colleague's salary is 18% higher than mine. Based on casual conversation with coworkers (mostly during happy hours), I have come to learn that salary differentials in our company can be very large, and sometimes hard to explain. I have been with this company for just over a year and getting to know my employer better over time.

I am confident that if i were to find a job elsewhere I could have a salary 30 K higher than what I am paid. So, I am believing that my employer is simply paying me less, and I am considering to apply for jobs elsewhere.

Could there be any specific reason that the new hire without job experience be paid higher, and could I make any effort to get it addressed to my manager or HR?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., Adam V, Garrison Neely, gnat, user9158 Jan 9 '15 at 3:05

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    Why were you looking at a colleagues mortgage application? – user9158 Jan 8 '15 at 5:05
  • I and my colleague were looking to buy a house; he/she used the same realtor and loan officer that I used (based on my recommendation). I closed on the house few days before my colleague. I am a second time home buyer while my colleague is first time.So, when closing time was coming near, my colleague saw huge values of closing cost and was worried the loan officer may not be giving him a good deal. So, he/she asked me to look at his loan document just if i can find any descripancy, and i agreed to. That is when i read the loan document (which also included loan application/wage info). – Rajendra Jan 8 '15 at 14:46
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    Don't go to your manager and HR and ask to be paid more based on somone else's salary. YOu are highly unlikely to get a pay raise that way. Ask for more but base it on what you are contributing to the company. And before you do, go read some books on negotiation, you will need negotitaion and sales skills to get that higher salary. – HLGEM Jan 8 '15 at 15:08

Could there be any specific reason that the new hire without job experience be paid higher

  • It could be that your company is looking to hire fresh graduates and thus incentivizing them.

  • It could be that the terms of his employment are different than yours (he could, for example, be getting a stipend that you are not).

  • It could simply be that when you were hired; the job market was different and thus you were paid at that rate.

The bottom line is - there are any number of reasons why this situation exists; and unless you are sitting in HR you may not know the "complete picture".

and could I make any effort to get it addressed to my manager or HR?

Of course you can bring up your remuneration but as long as it applies to you only; for example, you could start by going over your job description/ responsibilities to make sure they reflect what you do, and then bring up the topic of your pay package.

This conversation has to be about you, and not about "why _____ is getting paid more than me even though I have more experience"; as that will only end badly.

I am confident that if i were to find a job elsewhere I could have a salary 30 K higher than what I am paid. So, I am believing that my employer is simply paying me less, and I am considering to apply for jobs elsewhere.

This is perfectly fine. A job is a two way agreement, in which you expect to be paid fair wage for your skills. If you are not, you can most definitely look for other employment and I do not think anyone here will discourage you from doing so.



It's called a free market economy. It happens quite regularly that less skilled/qualified people get paid more than others. It also happens that worse employees get paid more than better ones.

The problem usually stems from the prevailing market conditions at the time you were hired. If everyone is paying $60k for a graduate today, but two years ago they were paying $40k, it's likely that the less experienced new hires will all be on a lot more than the more experienced people who were hired two years ago.

What does this mean?

Your company may have a transparent wage policy to prevent this (usually this will be tiered). I've never experienced this, though I am assured that this happens, particularly in government/academic organisations.

Without a transparent wage policy it is usually in your best interest as an employee to switch jobs every few years to stay at or near market rates. In many cases you can leverage a 10% pay rise in a new professional job. It is incredibly rare to get a 10% pay rise in an organisation you're already working for.

As a case in point, when I graduated, I was working with three other people. I was more educated and more skilled than the other three but the gap between our pay was up to 33% in favour of the other people. (Bear in mind that what we did by sharing salary information can be in breach of contract).

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    While such clauses are depressingly common in employment contracts, penalizing employees for telling coworkers what they're paid has been illegal in the US since the 30's; and attempting to enforce it can result in an employer getting in trouble with the NLRB. npr.org/2014/04/13/301989789/… – Dan Neely Jan 8 '15 at 6:28
  • Interesting that the US would have such a law. This must be one of the few times the US worker gets protections that are not available in many other western countries. – Stephen Jan 8 '15 at 6:38
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    Heck I've gotten a 60% raise changing jobs, try getting that from a company in an annual raise. – HLGEM Jan 8 '15 at 15:02
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    @DanNeely, since they don't need a reason to fire you in most US states, the law about protecting you from discussing salary is basically useless. – HLGEM Jan 8 '15 at 15:06
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    @DanNeely it is not illegal for employers to penalize employees for telling their salary. It is illegal for employers to interfere with union organizing. But an employer can legally penalize employees who share salary information for other reasons (e.g., bragging). The distinction is important because employers don't actually need a reason to fire an employee and if they were pressed they could just say they thought you shared salary for bragging. – emory Jan 9 '15 at 0:21

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