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I'm a newly hired in a big French high-tech company, as a software developer. It's been almost a year now and everything is fine so far. I've recently finished a project and got moved by my manager to a new team and project, to replace a colleague that will leave soon to another site (to raise his children in a better environment than in a small flat in the suburbs of Paris) and so will no longer be able to work on his current project.

It's been one month that we have been initiating a transition between him and me to teach me what he has done, what will be asked of me, and how to maintain and continue his work. And in two months, I'll be officially the new "him" in my new team, taking all his responsibilities in this new project.

He is a senior software developer with something like 15+ years of experience, though only 3 years in this current firm. I'm pretty sure he is paid at least 50% more than I am (looking at salary grids provided the trade union and considering his position), which I consider is well-deserved considering his experience. My salary is quite fine as it is, but I know some colleagues were given a better starting salary because they have a double diploma (while, in the meantime, I did a gap year working for the present firm, before finishing my studies), which made them lend in a better case of the salary grid.

How should I handle this when it comes to salary negotiations (which by the way will be my first ones)? I know it seems unreasonable to ask for a 50% salary increase, but I can certainly leverage this situation to my advantage.

  • FYI - looks like my edit conflicted with your change to a word in the title. You may want to correct that. See here for explanation. – Air Aug 7 '15 at 21:34
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    I don't have any advice specific to your environment, but generally it seems reasonable that if you have stuck around for a year, proven yourself and been given some significant new responsibilities, you could ask for a bump in compensation to reflect that. Just don't focus on what this other person was paid. It's you and your responsibilities and your pay that are relevant. You could certainly try asking for parity with your double diploma colleagues given your extra year of experience with the company. – Air Aug 7 '15 at 21:37
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    If you are represented by a union and that union has negotiated pay rates that account for things like years of experience and double diplomas, what are you negotiating? The whole point of a union is to negotiate collectively rather than having each employee negotiate separately. – Justin Cave Aug 7 '15 at 21:45
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    @JustinCave union negotiation sets the minimum rates (and usually, maximum work hours); an employee that feels that he is worth more can negotiate an improvement of such agreements. – SJuan76 Aug 7 '15 at 21:51
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    @Air I think you are talking about something different, the OP is probably talking about a collective bargaining agreement a.k.a "conventions collectives de travail" in France. Those agreements apply e.g. to a whole industry sector and are not negotiated by each individual company. Those agreements are about minimums, the real salary someone gets can of course be more than the minimum depending on cost of living, performance, etc. – Étienne Aug 8 '15 at 16:53
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His salary is in consideration of his total experience and output. You are a new hire recently out of college and with no prior experience. You will fill in at the role that your former colleague was filling but that does not mean that you have the knowledge, ability, and output that the person you are replacing does. Chances are your tasks will take longer to complete and will not be done as well as if the senior were there doing them. There is nothing wrong with that and the company should be expecting as much. That does not mean they will not try to measure you against the progress of the senior, but hopefully they will allow a learning curve.

Instead go in do your very best. After a year in the position pull together numbers that show how you have performed on the project and over all. Highlight where you have gained and how you are adding value to the company and your project.

  • Okay so I guess being part of an Agile team will help to have an idea of my performance. I'll just have to reach the same velocity as my colleague then :) – Loufylouf Aug 7 '15 at 22:49
  • Velocity is just one metric. It is not an overall indicator of performance. Judge your self based on your own performance with out trying to measure up to someone else. Sell yourself for your positives because if you make me(as a manager) compare you to someone else I am going to focus on the areas you fall short. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 9 '15 at 3:34

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