Should I Accept A Promotion If My Company Offers Me Less Than Other Employees In The Same Job?

Hi, world, I’m Megan. I’m the personal finance editor here at BuzzFeed, and welcome back to Money With Megan, where we talk through the sticky work and money situations that keep us up at night.

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This week, we have a letter from someone who’s poised to jump two levels higher in their company (yay!). But they’re worried that, as an internal hire, they’re going to be offered a lower salary than others in the role (boooo!). Here’s what they had to say:

“I applied for an internal role at work that is two levels higher than my current position. I’m pretty certain that they’ll be offering it to me because I’ve got the specialist experience needed, but I had a conversation with the hiring manager this week and it sounded like he was navigating office politics to get me the salary for that level ($25-$30K more than my current salary).”

woman giving a presentation at work

“I’m starting to think that if they do offer me the job, then they will lowball the salary or bring me on board at a lower level but expect me to do the same job. If they do this, I think I will decline the offer. Is this a mistake? I’ll still have my current job and the vacancy is only a 12-month secondment. But I’ll be angry if I do take the job for less pay.”

man thinking at his desk

My reply…

If I were you, I’d start getting ready to negotiate. That way, when the offer crosses your desk, you’ll be ready. It’s great that the hiring manager seems willing to go to bat for you, but it’s always a good idea to advocate for yourself too.

The first thing I’d do is check your company’s Glassdoor page to see if there are salaries posted for this role or similar jobs. It sounds like you already have a good idea of what this salary should be, but doing some research can help you confirm about how much is in the budget for this role.

woman working on a laptop at home

Next, I’d look up salaries for similar roles in your area. This salary info can give you a better sense for the market rate for the work you do in your area and how your company compares.

Then, if they do offer you a lower amount, you can reply with something like, “Thank you so much for this offer. I’m very interested in this role and my experience in A and achievement B make me a great fit. However, I was hoping for compensation closer to $XX amount to be more in line with the market and my qualifications. Are you able to come up on this offer?”

business people shaking hands in an office

You might also think about other benefits that you’d like to ask for if they aren’t willing to come up on the salary. Do you want a more flexible schedule? Work from home? Student debt assistance (seriously, there’s a tax incentive for employers to offer this)? Something else? Think about the full compensation picture, not just the number on your check.

If you’re feeling nervous about negotiating, that’s totally understandable! But you should know that a survey earlier this year found that young professionals who negotiate are able to get at least some of what they ask for 87% of the time. So push past your discomfort and get in the habit of negotiating your salary whenever you get a new job or promotion. It’ll pay off in the long run — even if you don’t succeed this time.

woman celebrating at her desk

It’s possible that you won’t be able to get a better offer, but I think you should ponder if that’s really a dealbreaker for you. Consider these two scenarios:

Are you in a place in your career where taking on this role would super-charge your résumé and position you to jump to a higher-paid role at another company in a year or so? If yes, you might benefit from taking this new job without the pay bump, if you can stomach it.

young man thinking in an office

On the other hand, if you’re way overqualified for the job you have now, you might want to look for other opportunities outside of your company. Statistically, people who switch jobs are seeing bigger salary increases these days, so if you really want more, explore what’s out there.

Good luck in whatever you decide! No matter what happens in your negotiations, it’s a great sign that you’re being seriously considered for such a big step up in your career.

And that’s all the advice I have for today! If you have a sticky work or money situation that you’d like some advice on, write to me via this anonymous form. And you can also follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

All requests for advice sent to me are for publication on BuzzFeed only. I do not respond to individual messages or provide any advice one-on-one. Please don’t submit a question unless you want it published on BuzzFeed. We’ll always keep you anonymous. You must be 16 or older to submit.

Do you have any advice for this letter writer? Sound off in the comments! I’ll be reading…

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