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I have an offer letter for a job for which I am qualified for but I feel the salary is above the average range for this position. Could there be something wrong with the position? Example:

  1. Workload too high - I asked about this but doesn't look like it. But I would never know unless I join

  2. Its a fake position? - Like they have hooked me in, only to loop in other candidates?

  3. They have misunderstood my skill set - Although I have made it very clear on what I can bring on board and what I am weak in.

I have the offer letter but the salary is way more than what i had in mind - like 25% more than what I had expected. And I am not sure if that's some kind of a clue.

Why I'm more worried is because people with higher salaries get laid off first when time comes.In fact, it happened to one of my friends.

How should I make sure things are right and whether I'm just over analyzing things?

[The position im taking is of a Software engineer in test with 4 years of work experience.]

  • There "could be something wrong" with any position. Either ask them more questions, or take the job and quit if there's really something wrong, or look elsewhere if you have ;reason to believe there's a real issue. Since you haven't told us anything about what and where the job is, and whether 25% more is really a significant amount of money (25% of what?), and what the benefits package is (maybe they offer less there?)... I don't think we can tell you anything you don't already know. – keshlam Mar 24 '15 at 22:24
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    While there may be a " norm" out there - really, any position is worth what both the employer and employee agree to value it at. They might just put a premium on the role to ensure happier staff who stay there longer. – HorusKol Mar 24 '15 at 23:05
  • Your question is way too vague for you to be able to answer in any meaningful way. Voting to close. – Vietnhi Phuvan Mar 25 '15 at 0:02
  • If that is what they pay for the position then taking that pay does not put you and any more risk for a layoff. Put that extra 25% in saving and if you are not laid off in 10 years then spend 1/2 of it. – paparazzo Mar 25 '15 at 0:39
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    There are three possible explanations. (1) conspirators are conspiring to somehow do evil by offering to pay you a lot of money, or (2) the company is overpaying you by 25% because they are terrible salary negotiators, or (3) you don't know what your skills are actually worth in this market, and you are possibly even being underpaid as a result. Of those three possibilities, which one strikes you as the most likely? (Not a rhetorical question.) – Eric Lippert Mar 25 '15 at 23:03
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I'd like to address the core concern directly here:

I have the offer letter but the salary is way more than what i had in mind - like 25% more than what I had expected.

This is absolutely nothing to worry about, especially in a high-demand field, for one simple reason: 25-50% isn't really that much. And don't take my word for it!

Computer Systems Analysts [simple example, requiring only a bachelor's]

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,950, and the top 10 percent earned more than $122,090. [emphasis added]

Note that the top range is more than twice the bottom range, and note the words "more than". If you got an offer for $160,000, you'd probably be in the top 5 for that position, but 1 out of 20 people are in the top 5% so that's hardly that weird! Note that this range increases as you move up in positions, for example:

Computer and Information Research Scientists [noted as requiring a higher level degree)

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,220, and the top 10 percent earned more than $151,900.

The other thing to be aware of is that, in a field where demand by employers is greater (at least temporarily) than qualified/suitable applicants, prices can jump dramatically overnight!

As something I personally experienced, a local education company in my area increased their starting wage for programmers 25% from one week to the next, putting them about 20% above what other employers post as a starting wage in the same city. The reason? They are expanding and there is so much competition from other employers (insurance companies, banks, and other education companies) that they complain that they can't find enough people even if 100% of current applicants were actually hire-able!

In other words: enjoy your windfall, a mere 25% increase in salary is great for you personally and is small potatoes to business in high-demand high-profit-margin industries. It's normal, and you are at no more risk of being conned into an organ harvesting scheme than you would be if they offered you a lower salary.

Do a good job, network well, build your network, and enjoy your new opportunity. Markets are fickle, so just make sure you contribute appropriately to your emergency savings fund, retirement, etc!

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    +1. Although to be fair, the salary ranges you quoted include freshly hired people as well as people who've had decades of raises and promotions since they were hired - the range for new hires is probably not that wide. – nikie Mar 25 '15 at 21:51
  • @nikie That's true, but new hires aren't necessarily people with no experience - and especially in tech, increased pay all too often means being someone's new hire. However for a first job out of school, I would tend to agree it isn't that wide, but I've personally seen offers range from $30,000 to $80,000 for a newly minted bachelor's degree-holder. The range would actually be higher than that if one was willing to consider different regions - this 30-80 range is based on students getting jobs in a ~200 mile radius, and none included NYC or SV jobs! – BrianH Mar 26 '15 at 3:08
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Let's take these one at a time:

Workload too high - I asked about this but doesn't look like it. But I would never know unless I join.

There is simply no reliable way to find this out unless you know someone that already works there AND have a similar perspective on what "too high" means.

Its a fake position? - Like they have hooked me in, only to loop in other candidates?

This makes absolutely no sense. Are you joining this company because of someone else? Do you really think that the fact you are joining will encourage others to show up? Honestly, if you have the type of name recognition that it takes to bring on other people then you wouldn't be asking this question. So put away the tinfoil hat.

They have misunderstood my skill set - Although I have made it very clear on what I can bring on board and what I am weak in.

If you've been clear and haven't overstated your abilities then any misunderstanding here is completely on them.

Why I'm more worried is because people with higher salaries get laid off first when time comes.In fact, it happened to one of my friends.

Actually, that depends on the governing laws for the location and size of the company. Depending on where you are at, seniority counts for more than pay scale. Which means that you are a high risk until lots of people are hired after you. Either way, this is something you can research with that specific company to find out their history.

How should I make sure things are right and whether I'm just over analyzing things?

Take the job, do your best and stop worrying. Pay rates in the software industry are literally all over the map and change very often. You can have two programmers with roughly the same skill set, working on the same projects at the same company and see a 100% pay disparity between them. All that mattered is what those skills were worth at the time of hire and what kind of hiring costs were involved - even if their hire dates were just a month apart.

Heck, you could have two people hired on the same day with equivalent skill sets and see a large disparity for no other reason than presentation or communication skills shown during the interview. I know I put a much higher value on people that are well spoken and can be placed in front of clients over those that struggle with the language or don't present well. They might have the same tech skills but one obviously brings far more to the table.

Another example is that recruiters typically take a pretty good chunk up front so someone coming from a recruiter may be paid well below someone that was referred by an existing employee.

A final thought: Direct pay isn't the only form of compensation. Healthcare coverage, paid time off, stock option plan (and many others) are all contributors to the total package. Depending on those benefits $70k/year at one place might very well be far more lucrative for an employee than $90k/year at another.

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Many companies provide an introductory or probation period. This is for both parties to ensure they will be a right fit for each other; that the new employee will fit in well with the rest of the team and the culture, and that the new employee is happy doing the job they chose.

These don't tend to last more than 6 months, mine was only 3 - but you could (and should) use this time to determine whether or not you feel the company is a good fit for you.

It's an "above the average salary range" position. Take the job. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out - that's what the probationary period is there for. If there isn't a probationary period - I suggest asking for one to be placed in your contract to ensure both parties are happy with the arrangement.

As for being worried about getting laid off - ask what the staff turnover typically is for the company. If it's rather high - there must be a reason. Assuming there is a probationary period, you could take the job, try your best, and keep an eye out for other jobs (you should really be keeping your eye on the market anyway).

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I wouldn't be too concerned about 25%, there are legitimate possibilities:

  • What is the local market like? Many places are experiencing a boom for job hunters, so salaries have been having to go higher to attract (and keep) good talent;
  • Are you comparing like for like? Some industries pay much more for the same role (e.g. Financial Services vs Public Sector)
  • Maybe they know something you don't. You don't say where the job is in relation to where you live, you may find they've seen property going through the roof locally and are having to accommodate it.

25% isn't a huge leap, I've been lucky enough to land 30% more than expected before. If we were talking 50%+, well maybe, but you know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth!

  • Of course there's also what (the same) 'they' say about things that look too good to be true... – AakashM Mar 25 '15 at 14:48
  • Good point about different norms in different sectors. – EleventhDoctor Mar 25 '15 at 15:30
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    A counterpoint is that some companies are crappy places to work, and have to pay more to retain people. I have been in organizations where many of the staff felt trapped because they didn't like their job, but they knew that they could not make as much money elsewhere. – Roger Mar 25 '15 at 17:45
  • @Roger - I agree. Im afraid that could happen to me!! But, i have taken the offer for now, and will take it as it comes. – derekS Mar 26 '15 at 19:29
  • @Roger: Much better than not liking your job, being paid badly, and there are no other jobs around. – gnasher729 Mar 27 '15 at 11:48

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