did I just low-ball my salary for the rest of my career?

A reader writes:

This week I accepted a job I am really excited about. During the interview process, I was asked what salary I was looking for, and I answered honestly with what I thought was an appropriate salary (I only have one year of experience so I wasn’t exactly sure, and I didn’t have any luck on sites like glassdoor.com). When the offer came in, it was 1k higher than what I had asked for, and I happily accepted. The next step was to head in to HR to sign some paperwork. As the HR rep explained the amazing benefits and perks of the job, I noticed a piece of paper in front of him that gave a clear rundown of my job: my name, my supervisor’s name, my salary, the reason the position was created, etc. Then I saw the salary range for the position—it was 15-25k more than what I had been offered. My heart sank.

I’ll admit, it’s not all bad. I got the salary I asked for and I am thrilled about the job (and actually have two years less experience than they had wanted). But I am worried about what this means for the rest of my career. What is my best bet for catching up to the salary range? Is it possible to renegotiate my salary in a year or two, or is a 20k jump just unheard of for that sort of thing? Or is it safer to wait a while longer and try to get promoted to a senior position and angle for the increase then? Or did I just really mess things up and have set myself up to always make 20k less than I could have?

You might have limited your salary at this company, but not for the rest of your career.

A $20,000 raise is pretty unusual — not unheard of, but rare and hard to get. (Actually, it’s more helpful to talk about raises in terms of percentages; a $20,000 raise could be perfectly feasible if you’re already making six figures, but with only one year of experience, I’m assuming that you’re not.)

However, at whatever point you leave this company, it should get easier to negotiate for more money. It’s always easier to negotiate before you’re working somewhere than after you are … since once you are, they already know what you’re willing to work for — a key element in negotiating.

After all, you’re under no obligation to share your salary history with prospective new employers. Some will insist on it, but plenty won’t. Moreover, even with companies that do insist on knowing your salary history, you can still sometimes argue that you’re worth significantly more. (Here’s an account of how I once did that myself.)

But it’s also worth noting that you might not have made a big mistake at all. After all, you were happy with the offer until you saw that piece of paper. Plus, since you have less experience than what they wanted, your salary may simply reflect that reality; the range you saw might have been for a candidate with the amount of experience they were originally looking for. (And I can pretty much guarantee that if you cited the range you saw in asking for more now, they’d cite your lack of experience right back, even if they were willing to pay you more earlier.)

Of course, this is a perfect illustration of why it’s frustrating for candidates that companies make them name a number first. Job seekers are rarely in as strong of a position as an employer is to have a solid idea of what a position should pay, and plenty of employers take advantage of that.

{ 63 comments… read them below }

  1. The Right Side*

    I did the same thing – first executive job after getting my MBA and ended up being $15k under what they had budgeted… how do I know this? I manage the budget. A little frustrating in hindsight but it was still what I wanted at the time and I’ve learned a hard lesson for next time.

    1. Steve G*

      Did all parties involved in the offer amount know you saw the salary line of the budget, or was there a disconnect there?

      1. Harry*

        Apparently, they didn’t teach you at MBA that just because there is a budget doesn’t mean you need to max it out. From reading your comment, they priced you right.

    1. Ariancita*

      Ellen, I read your blog post. Very interesting. I wonder, as I’ve asked below, if you think (in life sciences particularly) there is room to negotiate a salary when the offer is already very high (possibly well above market rates)? Would one still attempt a negotiation in that instance or would it be bad form?

    2. Josh S*

      Question: Did you negotiate your OWN salary for your recruiting job?

      Oops…just realized you own your own business. I presume you strongly negotiated the contract agreements for your recruiting services then, right?

  2. Josh S*

    Step 1: Do your research. It’s possible, no matter what kind of job you’re looking for. (Unless, of course, you’re in a field that nobody has ever done before… but that doesn’t exist all that often.)

    Step 2: If you can’t find information, or you are completely new to the working world, imagine what you expect the highest salary they might give to that position would be. The highest number. The “Wow, I can’t believe they actually pay THAT for THIS job!” number. Then add 10-15%. Name that as your expected salary.

    You’re unlikely to be so far out of the ballpark that they laugh at you and kick you out of the office. More likely, they’ll counter-offer. Or, just maybe, you’ll get the number you named, and be so completely amazed that you get to roll around in the extra money you’ll be making. Enjoy.

    Oh, and if you’re freelancing/consulting, you should add 50-75% to the number instead of 10-15%. Maybe even double it. :)

    1. Jamie*

      I would seriously caution against naming a figure past the high end of market, especially if you’re new to the working world. Even if you’ve been at it a while, unless you are so phenomenal that your reputation precedes you and you can back up your worth being at a level all it’s own I would really stick to market numbers and try to gauge (realistically) where you fall on the spectrum.

      Nothing wrong with asking for 10-15% more than what you’d take – but it should be based on what your market value is in reality – not hypothetical.

      If the number you toss out is absurd you do risk being laughed at (at least behind your back) and worse, you risk losing a decent offer because you’ve been branded as naive and high maintenance.

      1. Josh S*

        See, I’m not suggesting naming a price “past the high end of market”. I’m suggesting that if you have no way of knowing what market is (either because you’re so new that you have no context or because your job is so unique), that you should go absurdly (to your way of thinking) high.

        If you have a sense of market–and there’s very little reason not to (hence step 1: Do your Research!)–then you should put yourself in that range. Or at least that ballpark.

        1. David Gaspin*

          I’d counter that if you have no way of knowing what the market is, then you probably have no (or very little) experience in said market. To come in with no experience and ask for the moon and stars off the bat seems a wee bit presumptive, no? I’d suggest naming a number that you’d realistically be happy to take, and that your research shows is a reasonable amount for the job. This can also help you to save face later.

          How, you ask?

          Let’s say that your research shows that the range for the job is 40k-60k. You add 15% to the high end and ask for 70k (even though you’d be happy with 40k since you have no experience.) After you say 70k, the company says that the budget for the role is 40k. You say “that’s fine.” You look like an idiot who has no idea what you’re doing. Not a good way to start off a relationship with your potential employer, IMO.

          1. Josh S*

            I think I phrased my original post poorly. If you do your research and see that the range is typically 40-60k, then you have a good idea/basis for what to look for. You should ask for some number reasonably close to that range.

            If you have *no idea*, and you are just shooting blindly in the dark, you might just say, “Well, I would be thrilled if the job pays 40k. So I’ll add 10-15%, or 4-6k, and name my price as 46k.” Look at that–you’re in the ballpark, and on the low end, even.

            I shouldn’t have said, “Step 2”. I should have said, “Method 2”. Apologies for all the confusion it has led to.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The danger in going absurdly high is that the company may think you’ll never be satisfied with what they can offer you and will write you off. Of course, the danger in NOT going absurdly high is that maybe they would have paid it if you’d ask. It’s why the whole thing is so frustrating for candidates.

  3. Jamie*

    Congrats – you got a job you’re really excited about at more than you had asked for. That’s awesome.

    ITA with everything Alison said – and absolutely the lower offer could well be because you had less experience and they were willing to bend on that because they saw something in you that they want to add to team. It would bother me, too – don’t get me wrong. But money is the fastest way to breed resentment in me, so hopefully you’re more emotionally sound.

    For God’s sake, HR, keep the confidential information face down, would ya? The could have been an unequivocally positive experience for the OP and because you didn’t know enough to flip a piece of paper you’ve added a layer of discomfort. Sigh – isn’t part of being HR knowing what information should and shouldn’t be protected?

    1. Josh S*

      Seriously. All this angst over someone not flipping a paper.

      The same thing pissed me off at one of my main freelance clients. They told me to get some information from a shared drive when I was working in their offices, and I saw a file for “Freelance Pay”. Realized that after 6 months of working with them, I had maxed out their pay scale for contractors. And while they had never promised me an increase beyond that, they hinted strongly at higher pay.

      Soon as I saw that (and, Yes I snooped, and NO I wasn’t supposed to see it, and Yes it’s my own fault), they kind of lost priority as a client.

  4. Wilton Businessman*

    Hey, you got the job even though you had less then the minimum experience and got the money you wanted (and more). What more could you want? You’ve got to be happy with the deal you struck.

    If you are good at what you do, the money will come.

  5. Ariancita*

    Would you say it’s fair to assume that in most cases, the initial salary that is offered is the least amount they’re willing to pay? Meaning: they’re pretty much always going to offer you their lowest number in the range and hope you take it (as opposed to offering you the middle of their range or even top)?

    1. Anonymous*

      I disagree – my most recent job offer they gave me the top range salary (which was a surprise – I made a career jump and had already placed myself in the low-middle range…guess it’s a good thing they offered me the salary before asking what I was looking for!)

      I also live in one of the few places to not be hit hard by the economic down turn, so most people I know are in the high-end of their jobs salary ranges.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      No, not at all. If you’re the one I want, I will get your attention with my first (and usually only) offer.

    3. Sophie*

      Depends on the field. Here in higher education, non-faculty staff usually get the lowest number and you don’t get the negotiate. The budget is set and that’s that. For lower level positions it’s even more inflexible. Higher ed is where salary dreams come to die. :)

    4. KellyK*

      It probably depends a lot on how badly they want you, how fast they need to fill the position, and how worried they are about someone else snapping you up.

    5. Ariancita*

      Great responses and interesting. I guess I’m also wondering if there is room for negotiation when the offer is really really high: not just for you, as a candidate, but the company tends to pay all their employees very much above market range because they want the best of the best. So I wonder, in those instances, is there still room to negotiate or would it be bad form to even attempt?

      1. Josh S*

        I think you’re ALWAYS good to negotiate.

        But if a company is already offering high salaries because they want the best, they’re likely to say that’s a firm offer (take it or leave it). You might still be able to negotiate benefits, but don’t count on it.

        1. Ariancita*

          Ok, this is helpful. So good to try anyway, perhaps with a focus on benefits, but be prepared to hear the offer is firm.

          It had me thinking because I know from experience, some companies frown at an attempt to negotiate salary and seem to sour on you when you try.

          1. Josh S*

            If they’re at the point where they’re making you an offer, it’s because they’ve decided that YOU are the best candidate. Even if they are a bit put off by your attempt to negotiate (which isn’t likely), they’re not real likely to say, “Well, you WERE the best person for the job, but because you *asked* for more money, we no longer think you’re worthy of us, and we’re going to go with someone else now.”

            Not likely.

            1. Ariancita*

              Thanks for this, Josh. It’s very helpful. I think too one of the things I can negotiate, if not salary, is job title. The current title doesn’t really reflect the level of work and I’d like to have a more appropriate title not only for the work but also for moving forward. Thank you again for your insights.

              1. Anon-6*

                The job title may be more easily negotiable than other compensation because it doesn’t cost the employer any money at the time of hire. This can help if you know the salary ranges for comparable positions. By negotiating the title for the better position, you could be paid at the lower end of the range, leaving room for raises later. If you expect to change positions again in the near term, the better title can also springboard your career.

                For example, I was once a “technician”. I worked with others with the same – or less – experience with the title of “engineer” who made 40% more for the exact same work. In my next position, I cited my years of experience and qualifications, negotiated the “engineer” title, and haven’t looked back.

        2. Anonymous*

          Agreed. Even if it turns out they won’t budge, you have nothing to lose by at least trying to negotiate.

          (Note, “negotiate” does not equal asking for ridiculously high amounts or being obnoxiously stubborn–there is something to lose from doing those things).

          1. AD*

            I think that you can always start with something like “Hmmm…is there any flexibility in that number?” Very low risk, IMO.

          2. anon-2*

            … but you have to be able to say “I won’t work for that salary, it’s too low…”

  6. Stacie*

    I’m pretty much in the same position as you. I got a great job with less than a year of experience (when normally companies require at least 3-5 for this position). Butttt when I got this job, I knew I was being offered probably 10-15k less than what someone with those extra years of experience might get. I just decided I was ok with that. I’m going to work my butt off to prove I deserve a raise over time, and if in 3 years I don’t think my salary is in line with the market, then I will get a new job. But no, making less at this one job won’t haunt you forever.

  7. Jaime*

    Silverlining – now you know the salary range for your position at your company. Since you didn’t have much luck online, this has broadened your knowledge and will help you in a couple of ways. One, if you do try to negotiate a higher raise in a year or two, you know that you have a lot of room to grow. Maybe before you would have asked for a 4% raise, but now you know the budget could probably stand to absorb an 8%-10% raise. (assuming your performance warrants a higher raise) Two, now you have a place to start to checking out industry pay ranges.

  8. Blinx*

    My first job out of college, I was happy with my salary, until I learned that a less qualified colleague was earning 10% more. The reason? She asked for the higher salary and I didn’t.

    My last job, I contracted for almost a year and then was offered a salaried position at far higher than I would have asked for. I was ecstatic! Until I learned that I could have asked for more vacation time, like some colleagues did. It’s a lifelong learning experience, this salary negotiation skill.

    There is a disadvantage to being hired at the top of your range, especially in a large company were all employee “levels” have caps. You may have stellar performance reviews but receive minuscule raises, since they can’t go above a certain level.

  9. Sophia*

    This is exactly what I’m afraid of… lowballing myself and feeling the repercussions.

    As a new graduate with only experience from one internship, would it be kosher to negotiate at all?

    1. Josh S*

      YES! Always (ALWAYS!) feel free to negotiate! They may not budge a bit, but you can ALWAYS ask without feeling bad.

      1. AD*

        And remember: Salary is NOT the only thing that is open for negotiation: vacation time, flextime, bonuses, tuition reimbursement, etc.

    2. jmkenrick*

      Yes, absolutely – negociate. I have a lot trouble doing this, because I always feel sort of pushy and rude – but it’s not.

      One of the hardest things for me when transitioning from school the workplace was the realization that so many things aren’t personal – they’re just business. (It’s cliche for a reason.) The student/teacher intereaction and the student/peer relationship doesn’t directly translate to the boss/employee and employee/co-worker relationships.

      Literally every job you have is essentially a business deal. They need someone to do this work. You’re happy to do the work – if they pay you. You’re never being rude if you ask for more money, or more vacation time, etc. You’re not doing them a favor, and they’re not doing you a favor.

      I strongly recommend practicing. It was really helpful for me. I also found the phrase – “I had a slightly different range in mind” very helpful when they first tell your salary. You literally have nothing to lose by asking for more money. They might say no, but even if they do, no reasonable company would think any less of you for asking.

      Good luck!

  10. AV*

    I think the issue of an in-company salary increase has come up a few times, so wanted to share my experience. When I started at my company, I interviewed for one position but was offered a position one level lower (which was a demotion for me given my experience), because I was still a part time student and they had to work around my hours somewhat. I was also offered a corresponingly low salary — and unfortunately, didn’t negotiate at all (my mistake) because the process had been somewhat unusual and confusing. When I finished school a year later (a degree that was directly relevant to the job), I was promoted to the original level and offered a slight salary increase. A year later, I was offered yet another promotion and asked to take on staff management. At that point, I really asked that I be paid in line with what others at my level were making in our industry. And they did. My salary went up over 15K at the time of promotion #2. Now, three years later, I’m finally compensated very fairly for my position. And while I wish I’d negotiated at first, I don’t overall have any regrets as I’ve been very happy to be at this company and have been compensated/promoted for performance. So it can happen (though I think it’s wise to factor in those who acknowledge it can be difficult.)

  11. AV*

    To clarify, I was a part time grad-student with a directly relevant bachelors’ and over six years of work experience at the time I joined the company.

  12. Anonymous*

    OP, the exact same thing happened to me. I was trying to escape a toxic work environment and came across an advert that was for a more junior position with less salary than I was currently earning. At the interview, when asked my desired salary, I named what I knew as their budget. Later when they made me an offer, they told me they had upgraded the position and increased the scope to match my skills. They gave me a salary that was more than double what I was earning. I was pretty excited until I took up my duties in HR and realized that not only was i being paid much less than the minimum of my grade in the organization,I was the least paid among my peers – some with much less skill and experience.
    I was pretty bummed but after a couple of weeks, I realized I had a job I loved, earning more than twice what I was earning before and in an excellent work environment. I decided that was pretty awesome and I wouldn’t let the information I had come across ruin the experience. So nowadays when I sign yet another employment offer for some lucky sod who has better negotiating skills than I, I grin and bear because you know what? I am content with what I got.
    I would advise you to focus on the positives. That you got a job you are excited about, that they actually considered you when you didn’t meet all their desired requirements and that they offered you a bit more than you asked for. It doesn’t affect the salaries for all your future jobs as now you will be wiser and do adequate research beforehand and also negotiate.

  13. AD*

    I used to work at a F500 company, and let me tell you, the approved salary band for the position had nothing to do with the actual salary earned by people in those roles. Nobody ever hit the midpoint of the salary range, ever, even though they were paying fair market rates.

    There was much speculation on why this was: some said it was so that you could be in a role for up to 5 years getting good raises, some said it was so that the company could claim to pay above market rates, some thought it was some bizarre budget game being played at the senior management level.

    In any case, some piece of paper is not the same as reality.

    1. Steve G*

      No! That would make the OP feel better today, because they won’t feel so shafted, but in the long-term, dashed hoped of getting into the middle to upper parts of the salary range. Bummer. Did your salary ranges correlate with salary.com? I find those to be inflated….

      1. AD*

        No, it wasn’t really a bad thing, from an employee point of view. Generally, people would start at the low end, and if you were good, you would get a few years of good raises, but you were moved to the low end of a new salary band before you ever crossed the half-way point of your existing salary band. Even if you weren’t officially promoted, you’d get “senior” slapped in front of your title, and then be rated differently.

    2. Blinx*

      One company I worked at had a grid with all of the grades and salaries spelled out. You knew exactly where you were on the scale.

      At my last company, despite asking various managers over the 10 years that I was there, I never saw nor heard what the exact range was for my position. Grrrr. I wonder if it really existed!

  14. Kit M.*

    Is it possible that part of the reason they hired the OP was _because_ s/he asked for a lower salary?

  15. Charles*

    Twice in my work career I have found out that a coworker was making more than me.

    Yes, I was a bit miffed; but, rather than running to my boss about how “unfair” it was I simply remembered the amount and asked for a close-to-the-same-dollar-amount raise when it came to review time. Both times I was successful in getting what I asked for. Hopefully, you will be able to do the same when it comes to your first review. Remember, OP, knowledge can be power – use it to your advantage.

  16. anon-2*

    One thing, however — if you know the range — and know you’re not asking for too much —

    – if you stand your ground, and they give you what you want in a counter/follow-up offer, know that when it comes time for a substantial raise or promotion — you may have to “whack them across the face”. This is not a “red flag” but a “yellow caution light” — there are a lot of places that do not act, but RE-act.

    – if they give you a ridiculous low-ball number, it’s probably best to steer clear. If you accept it and stay there, the longer you’re there, the more likely you’re going to establish that “low price” for your services — and the more difficult it will be to get what you want or need.

  17. Vicki*

    At my first job out of College, I also asked for (and got) what then seemed to me to be a reasonable salary. When my annual review came up, I got a 10% raise. I was a programmer at a Biotech company.

    The following year, I interviewed at another company, for a job as a programmer at a “real” computer software company. The offer stunned me. It was 30% higher than what I was currently making and the hiring manager apologized for only being able to offer me an “entry level” salary.

    When you’re fresh out of College, you have no idea what’s reasonable. Also, different companies pay differently, so even moving between jobs you may have no idea.

    AAM is absolutely correct. It’s not only frustrating to ask the job seeker what they want, it’s almost guaranteed to either get you to lowball yourself or look like an ego-inflated idiot. :-(

  18. Alessia*

    Oh, a lower salary expectation that what the recruiter then said to me was their option (because I was told). I can feel your pain.
    In my case, I am not even sure I will make it to the second round of interviews so if I do maybe I can still save my situation, but I still feel your pain as I am totally angry at me for not expecting it on a preliminary phone interview so I didn’t have to make up things on the moment and make mistakes. I even fear it will cost me a place in the next round, among other possible reasons.

  19. Amol*

    Good post ! I am facing a similar situation here…
    I got a job offer and accepted it just today.The offer was just what I had asked for.
    I later came to know that this particular position could have fetched me a bit more than what I am getting.
    So its not in a low range, but a middle range.
    But still the offer is good enough and the hike is 50 %.
    So I am happy :)

  20. Anonymous*

    What if your offer is in range of your “salary expectations” answer, but you realize that your answer was a low-ball number? If I haven’t accepted the offer can I negotiate a significant salary increase?

  21. jaybe*

    Read through the comments,

    And really, isn’t it kind of silly? Wouldn’t it be in the best interests of the company not to lowball employees? The whole idea of “masking” the real budgeted range and seeing if the employee will “bite”, seems very counter intuitive to the goal of retaining quality employees.

    Also, it’s not exactly easy for employees to find out what their skill set is actually worth. Conveniently, we’re told not to trust “Salary.com”/”Payscale.com”, etc. etc. because they are known to be “over inflated”. So instead, we’re told to trust the HR departments compensation analysts and their “data”, however this “data” isn’t accessible to anyone else. In fact, you can’t even purchase this data from, for example, Mercer, because these organizations don’t want their data being used by employees against their biggest clients – the employers.

    The only real way to understand your market value is to get an offer from another company. That is 50x more accurate than any HR departments “research”. However, we are told never to accept counter offers from our employers because then we get branded “disloyal” and “untrustworthy”.

    Isn’t that interesting. Or, rather, telling.

    1. Anon-6*

      Be wary. The lower offer may be justified by your skills or experience being below what they are asking for the position. If you feel you’re genuinely qualified for the higher salary, counter that the position was offered at a higher rate and give examples of why you are better qualified than other candidates. If they won’t budge with the offer, you’ll have to decide if you are willing to accept it.

  22. SmilesNotTears*

    At my 2nd interview they stated that the salary could be about $15/hr, i didn’t take it as a salary offer at the moment, i was very nervous. When i got home and went over the job description list that they gave me, I noticed that the amount of responsibilities were more then my previous job, and i would be commuting between to different sites. They said that after my background check and calling my references if everything turns out okay, they will call me with an offer. I am concerned. When i did some research about the pay rate, people with about the same amount of experience are starting out at $18 – $20 per hour. On their job posting they were offering a range of $14 -$16.50. They have great benefits package tho. Am I still able to negotiate to $16.50 when they call me with an offer? If so, how to i go about negotiating? I have never negotiated a salary before, because i’m scared they will revoke the offer :( Any help will be greatly appreciated

  23. Kattsmeow*

    Something very similar just happened to me in the past month.
    I went on a job interview and before going I didn’t know much about the position because it was not posted. The friend who informed me of the position miss informed me about all of the positions roles and responsibilities . So when I went into the interview even after hearing them speak a little bit about the position I didn’t assume that the responsibilities where is great as they are now. So I asked for less and now I feel like I have underestimated myself by at least $5000.
    Is there anyway to fix this and get a higher salary?

  24. KJ*

    Before my final interview I was asked if I was still ok with the salary range they had given me initially. I said yes. They then told me that actually they had decided to make it a managerial position. Ie higher salary. I feel like I shot myself in the foot. If they make me an offer surely they will now low ball me. What can I do?

  25. Reese*

    Kattsmeow, I’m now in the same situation as yours, and it’s really bothering me and I do regret it. I’m thinking of asking for a pay raise after I pass my probation. Were you able to re-negotiate your salary?

  26. Bre*

    I am going in for an interview soon for a customer service representative position. I have tried to do some research on the average salary pay scale, nut have been unsuccessful in finding it. I know someone is the same position and location and they told me to ask for $32/hr. Does this seem reasonable?

  27. Alli*

    When I was close to finishing my masters, I started with a company as an intern due to the flexible schedule and my serious need to finish my thesis. Despite my efforts to negotiate my salary (I have prior experience and making significant more at other full time roles), there was a strict company policy that interns do not exceed this hourly rate. Knowing the possible growth opportunities I decided to accept the offer and join the company. After 2 months my VP saw my potential and promoted me to a full time role with benefits. My salary offer was about 5k more than what I was making as an intern. Despite me wanting more, I knew I was still not finished with my Master’s thesis and I thought this was fair given I wanted to still expand my experience (I only had 2 prior years of experience). Stupidly, I did not research the market value of this position, nor did I negotiate and about 6 months later I found that my male counterpart was making close to 12K more than me.

    I tried to not let this bother me, but it was not until my VP offered me a new role on the team (a promotion) that I started to think that my lack of negotiating may have set me up to always be significantly paid lower than what I should be paid compare to others on the team and the market. I did my research this time and found that a colleague, who was currently at the position I would be promoted to, was making $17k more than my current salary and even that was below market value. I have classmates doing the same work for other companies making close to $25k more. I am now going into my salary negotiation with my VP in 2 days. I have a strong feeling they will “low ball” me and only provide me with 10% increase. Which sounds generous, but is still about 15K under market. Is it possible to negotiate for more? How do I do this? Is it absurd for me to ask to be paid within market value as well as equitable to my colleagues of the same position and experience level?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

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