I'll try to keep this as simple as possible.

I work for a company that provides services to other companies within a specific industry. I've been working for the same customer for over 10 years and in that time have amassed enormous amounts of priceless experience for that specific customer, along the lines of, I'm one of perhaps 3 that really understands what's going on.

I'm planning on leaving my current employer and gave the customer first chance at extending an offer of employment; they're desperate to retain me and have already offered employment.

I know what my salary expectation floor is, but I've no idea how high the ceiling is. I know some millwright stuff for fixing mechanical issues, but I'm not a millwright. I know some IT stuff for checking the database or auditing software, but I have no computer science degree. They have payscales for all of these jobs, but I have just enough experience in each of them to exactly fit the line of business but can't claim to be a master of any.

Where does one start trying to figure this?

  • Ask them what salary range they have in mind. Then you can work out of you wish to negotiate that further or walk away.
    – Jane S
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:04
  • What I'm willing to accept might not necessarily equate to what I'm worth though. I have a position of considerable strength and intend to use it, they need me more than I need them and they've been getting me at bargain barrel prices for years. Dec 1, 2015 at 5:52
  • 1
    I'd suggest looking at this thread.
    – Jane S
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:55
  • Is there any reason you can't use the standard ways of determining your market rate for a location? Even if they have pay scales for specific positions, that doesn't mean that you should try to conform to them and if you were an outside candidate you wouldn't know about them anyway. Find out what you're worth and base your range on that. Note that familiarity with the company and system knowledge are good argument for a negotiation but being underpaid for years isn't so don't let that influence your thoughts too much.
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 1, 2015 at 10:22
  • It's a non-standard job. And your absolutely right about historical wages, but it is motivation to get it right and not feel the same way in a few years time. Dec 1, 2015 at 13:49

4 Answers 4


Where does one start trying to figure this?

They already know you, they know you have the skills to do the job and they want you full time. Therefore you are qualified for the position. I would take the high end of their payscale in whichever pays the most as a starting point for negotiation.

They're not just getting a competent employee, they're getting one who will hit the ground running and is already intimately familiar with their needs and all the rest.

Always aim high is my policy, you can always let them negotiate you down, but often you will find that they negotiate down to a higher figure then you would have accepted anyway.


they need me more than I need them and they've been getting me at bargain barrel prices for years

I used to think this about all my employers, its rarely true. Company's first priority is continuity through staff losses. They'll get someone else in there and they will, after a while, fill your shoes. Take the job and set yourself on a career path that involves training / certifications / career development.

  • It's actually unusual for me to think this way. I'm certainly replaceable, but the losses on account of my absence per year will exceed a reasonable cost to employ me. Director has been bugging me for months to take a direct contract. Dec 1, 2015 at 7:00

One key problem about having a very good breadth of experience in an organisation, but not a professional level of depth in any given individual area, is that there might not be one single individual manager or department who finds you indispensable.

You can be indispensable without being seen as indispensable.

As has been mentioned, the way to get increased reward for your breadth is to get a professional-depth in one specific area, which is then supplemented by your strong breadth of knowledge in many other areas.

  • 1
    Employment is not about being indispensable, it's about adding value.
    – Cronax
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:16
  • Is this even an answer to the question? It seems more like a really long comment. Dec 2, 2015 at 19:21
  • Except the question is in the last section of the OP, and the answer is in the last para of the answer. And the OP is the first commenter in this particular thread.
    – Euan M
    Dec 2, 2015 at 19:24

I would echo with Jane's comment here.

It does happen. For example, when data science was growing as a domain, no one knew what the salary range would be, and how much to bargain for.

So, you need to ask them about the figure and then start negotiating with them, depending on the cost of living at the place and the figure you have in mind.

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