should I be worried I’m overpaid?

A reader writes:

I started working for a for-profit corporation after years of working for nonprofits. My current salary at the for-profit was already a significant raise from my previous job – which I am very grateful for. One of my direct reports was making about 15% more than me, but I didn’t care: he’s a specialist, and a rock star to boot, and I felt like I was being paid amply for the work I was doing. Come review time, my boss notices this “discrepancy” and, despite a review that showed solid but not dazzling performance, gave me a 20% “equity” raise, because she felt it was inappropriate for a manager to be making less than her direct report.

I should be thrilled right? Except now feel that I am drastically overpaid for the work that I do. I could have turned the money down, I guess, but (a) that would have been a disservice to my family and (b) I thought my boss would at best think I was a moron or, worse, been offended by my refusal.

But now I’m up at night worrying that someone will suddenly find out that I am not worth the money they are paying me. I worry that between my inflated title and inflated salary, the next job I take will either look like a demotion, or I will be massively under-qualified. And I just feel guilty and can’t shake it.

What do you think is the right thing to do? Should I talk to my boss about giving me more work and more responsibility so that I feel like I’m earning my salary? I do work hard – but I’m not working attorney hours by any stretch. Or should I just lay low and do the best I can, and not look a gift horse in the mouth?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. Marty*

    This is a typical reaction for someone who transitions from non-profit to for-profit organizations. I still feel like a thief every now and then, despite being paid appropriately compared to peers. It’s an adjustment.

    1. Suzy Q*

      And also, probably a more typical thing for a woman to think. I have never known a man who thinks he’s overpaid.

  2. Bea*

    Now that we’re creeping out of our 2008 bomb shelters, we’re also readjusting to an economy that’s not in the toilet! So we’re conditioned to think the peanuts we were given before was a generous heaping pile of “I’m paying my bills, I’m making plenty…right?!”

    I felt overpaid for about 6 months into my work in a higher cost of living area but still making my bills with something left over. But I compared other listings and I’m mid-range, nothing to worry about.

    I know when we’re conditioned to be happy with scraps, a full meal seems luxurious and over the top.

    1. Audenc*

      This is so accurate. I graduated into the height of the recession. Despite my prestigious degree and a fair bit of internship and campus work experience, it took me ~18 months to find something full-time, and that was a sub-35k dead-end admin job.

      After getting a grad degree and working my way up, I’m finally in a position where I’m not just covering my basic bills, but saving some money and putting a decent chunk into retirement. It feels crazy to me. Then I look at some of the entry-level employees at my company who are getting 45-50k positions right out of school with solid but unspectacular backgrounds and experience, and it kind of blows my mind.

      1. Birch*

        Yep, this! I have been in graduate school for the last 7 years and finally started my first career job this spring. My brother is a high school teacher and makes 10k more than me right out of college. I have a PhD. I have zero savings after making an international move for this job, my bills and student loans take up most of my pay and still, STILL, the experience of being able to afford to go to the grocery store and buy whatever I want for dinner makes me feel guilty and overprivileged. We have been told so much not to expect anything, that we are supposed to be grateful for scraps and to pull ourselves up with our bootstraps that it’s really skewed our idea of what work is worth. I think it’s the compensation version of the ‘cult of busy’ where we think we must be poor and miserable in order to be a good person. It helps to flip the perspective and say, now I have the opportunity to help others.

  3. Person of Interest*

    Aside from whatever the market rate should be for these positions, it sounds like the big boss actually did something that we’ve seen raised before: recognized an inappropriate gender pay gap and corrected it.

    1. Holly*

      Yes, that’s what I was thinking. OP, there are benefits to paying you an increased amount such as not risking litigation re: equal pay.

      Also… not all pay is tied strictly to performance. They want you to be making that amount.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Also… not all pay is tied strictly to performance. They want you to be making that amount.

        Yes. It’s very important for us to be in market for our positions, and the market moves sometimes. (We’ll never be top of the market, but we never want to be bottom of or below market either.) A number of people got an adjustment up this year because the annual niche market survey said so, and we just presented it along side the merit raises at review time.

    2. Constantly Sleepy*

      I absolutely appreciate that OP’s boss was able to recognize this and address it

  4. Big Bank*

    I think there is a third risk, at least in my line of work. When cost cutting comes around they target folks they think they can replace at a cheaper rate. Not that I would plan my life around it or turn down a raise, but the more you make compared to your peers (even if you deserve it) can be a liability when the bean counters make those decisions.

    1. Bea*

      Yeah that’s a risk of working in general. You never know how restructuring will work out. Sometimes you cut back the lower fruit, others will start trimming long term folks with better/higher cost benefits. It depends on the mindset of the powers that be.

    2. Djuna*

      This was my concern when I got bumped up two pay grades in a fiscal year. I was let go by this company a few years ago, and worked my way back into my old job. Every time they increased my pay I would silently panic about becoming too expensive and feel like I was becoming a pretty target for bean counters.

      Earlier this year, my grandboss took me aside to ask why I didn’t seem excited about an upcoming bonus conversation. She was concerned I thought I wouldn’t be getting a good bonus and was taken aback to find out what I was really worried about. We had a really good talk, she explained about market rates and retention strategies, etc. and then my boss reinforced that in another conversation soon afterward. I felt better afterwards, but I still get the shivers when anyone mentions reorgs or other sweeping changes. Job hunting in tech as a middle-aged woman is not a lot of fun!

    3. The New Wanderer*

      This literally happened to me last year, so yeah, it is a risk and it does suck. The plus side is that because I was so well paid for a while, I was able to save enough that I’m not desperate to take another job. But, all things considered, it did take over 10 years to get to that point and plenty of my equally-high-paid colleagues are still gainfully employed, so it’s very doubtful that OP’s first few years earning a for-profit-level salary are going to put them at risk.

  5. Augusta Sugarbean*

    ♪ Go on take the money and run. ♪ Seriously. As a rule companies don’t give away money for nothing. Especially in the for-profit sector. Do you like and respect your boss normally? Do you trust her judgement in other matters? Then trust her judgement now that you are being paid appropriately. The part about worrying how this will impact future jobs seems a legit thing to consider (not worry about but consider) but the guilty feelings? That sounds like leftovers from non-profit work to me. There’s so much implied “you should work for the good of humankind not for a paycheck” BS that comes with working in the non-profit sector. It can really mess with your head.

    I suspect you’ll get a lot of consensus here that comes down on the side of “you are legit earning the money”. Think hard about what it takes to get a consensus on *any* discussion forum.

    1. Girl friday*

      I agree, this will be your salary on your resume and will set the tone for other salaries to come. Don’t sell yourself short!

  6. Burnett*

    In my experience this is a big shift a lot of people have to get used to when they transfer from non-profit to for-profit companies! The impostor syndrome isn’t your fault, OP, but you should know that it’s a liar. Your worth to any company is exactly what they’re willing to pay you, for better or worse. In your case, you’re on the good end of that spectrum.

    Also – your boss is right; it’s weird to have managers making far less than their direct reports, and 15% less is quite a difference! You didn’t receive a large raise for no reason! Your boss is correcting a discrepancy that should have been caught before they sent you your initial offer. You deserve this, and should feel no qualms about accepting it.

  7. Ozma the Grouch*

    Whenever I hear someone transitioning from the non-profit sector into the private sector talk about salaries, even when they know that they’ve been underpaid for years, they still seem to think they are being overpaid in the for-profit world. It really hurts them during negotiation time and ultimately getting what they really deserve. I’ve heard of so many people being taken advantage of in this situation. OP, your boss is doing the exact opposite and that is pretty rare and pretty awesome. If you were being over paid you wouldn’t have received the 20% pay bump.

    1. KHB*

      Also, people transitioning from grad school/postdoc positions to anywhere else in the working world. The starting salary I was offered at my current job (at a nonprofit, mind you) was, in retrospect, pretty good but not great, but it seemed so impossibly high compared to my student/postdoc stipends that I was too busy scraping my jaw off the floor to even think about negotiating.

      1. Le Sigh*

        This was me. After years of scraping together whatever I could from part-time jobs to pay tuition and rent (and sometimes skipping bills to pay others), my salary for my first full-time job felt like a windfall. It was in actuality just a so-so but livable salary for that area (which, plus benefits, is nothing at all to sneeze at). But at the time, I did a little dance in my kitchen.

    2. Cloud 9 Sandra*

      I worked so long in non-profit I walked into my meeting when I was hired at current job ready to fight for the lowest I would take. The salary offered was 10k more than what I thought I would get! My perception was so skewed.

    3. Office Gumby*

      I moved from the US to another first-world country with the advantage of a few years’ worth experience in a field that few ppl in the new country had. Result, I was highly employable. Detriment: I had no idea what the salary norms were. So when I put in a bid on a contract and asked for three times the value of US minimum wage as my salary, I was quite surprised when I won the contract. What I discovered later was that my bid was only juust above that country’s minimum wage, and half of what I should have been asking for for this job. No wonder I got the contract!

      Even so, that money was enough to live off, plus pay off my US student loans in its entirety, because that country believed in living wages.

      Lesson learned: know the expected salary level for the job you’re doing in the place you live. Chances are, where you were before might not have been the norm.

  8. NotChickenLittle*

    Enjoy it….

    I switched jobs in 2014 and left a non profit for govt. I took a “big” pay raise. Then it turns out… that 2 years after I started a new HR policy came down and new hires get started at a higher rate ( with less experience and education- with no transfer between agencies) I make 10 grand less than my college roommate who only has a BA and has a lower level of licensure. HR reports back ” you agreed to your starting salary at date of hire”

    1. tink*

      Ah yes, government work where your locked in rate basically seems to be your rate forever in some places.

    2. always in email jail*

      I made an opposite move, left government for a non-profit and got a 50% pay raise! I lost A LOT of great benefits, though.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      That is absurd and demoralizing. We had a similar situation a few years ago, and it was addressed immediately for everyone in the job category.

      Logistically, it’s also stupid. If you quit because you are (understandably!) upset about being paid substantially less, they will have to refill the position with someone at the higher rate (and without your years of experience).

      This is mindbogglingly short-sighted.

    4. PiggyStardust*

      At OldJob, they couldn’t get people to apply — the pay and benefits were notoriously garbage for our industry. This year, I heard they decided to increase starting salaries to recruit new employees, while refusing any additional compensation for current staff. Now new staff makes far more than veteran staff, and veteran staff can’t even get a 2% cost of living raise.

      I feel bad for my friends there, but it’s part of the reason I left.

  9. SystemsAdministrator*

    I went from for-profit to non-profit 18 months ago, at basically the same rate of pay, and I am working lots less. If I could get 20% more in the for-profit arena, I might not have made the switch. (and trust me, I know I was getting way underpaid at the old job, Stockholm syndrome kicked in after a while)

  10. wheeeee*

    Your employer is doing what all employers should do. You’re just used to being underpaid and treated like s**t. Rest easy, you are doing nothing wrong.

  11. Lobbyist*

    If you were being paid less than your report, that is a problem and a possible liability, especially if you are a woman and your report is man. You deserve the salary. Enjoy it.

  12. Ann Nonymous*

    Let this be your mantra: “You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important!”

    Take the money gratefully and joyfully for all of us out here.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darnit, people like me…are making a shit ton more or a shit ton less. But I’m happy here…

  13. always in email jail*

    I’m currently experiencing a bit of imposter syndrome with my salary, and I started putting a significant portion in savings. That made me feel a lot better, because I know I’m planning ahead in case I don’t keep this salary forever, and it’s helping to ward off “lifestyle creep” that will make possibly having a lower salary in the future very difficult.

    1. Office Gumby*


      My parents taught me that it’s the best idea to “pay yourself” before you pay your bills by dumping money into savings Just In Case.

  14. Girl from the North Country*

    I think like a lot of others have already said, it’s possible that you only feel overpaid because your previous jobs underpaid you. I just left a job a few months ago for a new job that pays me over 40% more than what I used to make. I also struggled with feeling like I didn’t deserve it, but I just kept reminding myself that Old Company really sucked at compensating people properly for their work. Enjoy the raise!!!

    1. Julianne (also a teacher)*

      Agreed! I sometimes feel gross knowing how much more money I make compared to teachers I know who have decades of experience (compared to my 5), but who work in districts that pay much less than mine does. But the thing is, all teachers should be paid as well as teachers in my district; it’s not that we’re overpaid, it’s that (quite literally) every other school district in the US underpays their teachers.

  15. alice*

    Out of curiosity, is it never acceptable for a manager to be making less than her reports? In my company, we have a woman who was promoted to manager-level only three years after starting as an intern. It’s fine – she’s great at managing, and that’s clearly the career progression she wanted – but if I found out that she was making more than the engineers under her who have been working for 10+ years, I’d be a little upset. Her job is more like project management, while her direct reports are the ones with the expertise and experience to implement. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

    1. Nay*

      As a project manager, it’s totally fine to be paid more than your subject matter experts…you do different work, you’re comparing apples to oranges…sure they have the expertise and experience to implement, she clearly has the skills to manage the project, which I assure you, a lot of people not only don’t have but don’t want to do, or certainly don’t do well.

    2. Bea*

      No manager should make less than their reports. It’s against correct organisational structure.

      The whole point is you’re a higher paygrade to deal with managing a team or department. So if they need her approval on anything, despite being damn good at their jobs, she should make more given the added responsibility.

      1. Dan*

        Generally speaking? Sure. But as an absolute rule? I don’t agree. There are times where the market demands that a person with a specialized skillset get paid more than their manager. You also get into issues when you have an exempt manager managing non-exempt staff. The non-exempt staff are eligible for overtime, and if they’re in an industry where overtime is frequently worked, it’s not unheard of for the hourly staff to get paid more than their manager.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        Strong disagree. I spent a lot of time in the software industry, where if a company requires developers to get into management to get raises, it’s going to have some really horrible managers. I had developers reporting to me that made a good bit more than I, but they also had 20+ years experience in systems programming and were worth their weight in gold. The company needed to pay them enough to keep them happy where they were.

      3. Jess*

        Yea, I have to disagree with this. Managing is really important, but not all managers are just more senior versions of the individual contributors on their team. In some areas, a subject matter expert is going to be worth more than a manager (maybe b/c the expertise is uncommon, or b/c it’s particularly important to the employer), and an employer that cannot account for that fact is going to either misuse the time of their experts or lose out on the best people b/c they refuse to pay them the worth of their expertise.

        There’s a story from the ’70s/’80s that’s often used to highlight how rigid job categorization and hierarchy can be counterproductive. Some DoD lab was set up for work performed by a scientist in a very specialized field who was literally the only person at the time who was an expert in this very niche area. OPM (or whatever the equivalent was then) visited the lab & told the manager running the place that the world renowned scientist was paid too much because he didn’t have supervisory responsibilities and he was going to have to downgrade him. Despite the fact that the lab was set up specifically to allow his work to take place, his expertise was vital to development of some important system/program, and there was no one else who could do the same thing b/c his work was pathbreaking.

        Moral of the story is: managing is a skill just like everything else, and it is not more important than every other skill. Where other needed skills are specialized and rare, they are going to be worth more than commonplace management skills.

        1. alice*

          “Managing is a skill just like everything else, and it is not more important than every other skill.”

          I think this sums up pretty well how I feel about it.

    3. Drama LLama's Mama*

      I don’t think it’s always inappropriate for a manager to make less than their reports. I manage a team of 8, and while none of them make more than me (yet), a couple of them are within 2-3% and have the potential to pass me come performance review time. That’s totally fine with me – they both have more experience and specific expertise that I don’t have. I have a higher ceiling in my salary band, but there’s a lot of overlap, I think to address situations like this.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      This point is very much why I think the raise has more to do with the business than the LW. I don’t think it was simply, “hey, pay LW more because it looks bad.” I think that’s the line LW was given, so that the company looks more on the generous side than on the mercenary side, because they are doing a positive thing here.
      -I think the company looked at the role and thought that it should have a higher salary, so that the person they just hired wouldn’t leave in two years after discovering another company paid 25% more.
      -I think they looked at the company demographic and saw a possible gender/race issue that could be easily remedied now that they were aware.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Nah, in situations like you describe where the reports have a specific, high-demand skill set that their manager doesn’t have or need to possess, it makes sense for the reports to be paid more. But absent such a situation, it’s weird and concerning, because generally as you move up the scale, responsibility increases and so should pay.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        And really, what I’m saying should only apply if the manager really, legitimately, bona-fide is not and has no need to be an engineer (or what-have-you) to manage engineers. I think that’s a fairly rare situation; usually you want a manager who’s educated on what their reports do in order to be able to assess their performance adequately, and pay should be in line with that skillset, whether they’re using it directly or using it to review what others do.

        1. alice*

          It’s a tough situation, because obviously she does have technical experience – but only three years of it. In my company, there’s a rule that you need at least two years to move up to the next level of engineer. So she would have been maximum level 2 when she got promoted, while she’s managing people up to level 6. She understands of course what’s expected of the level 6 engineers, but I doubt she’d be able to do that work herself.

          1. Not A Morning Person*

            And a manager doesn’t necessarily need to be able to do the work itself. The manager has other different responsibilities. It’s a common misconception that the manager needs to be the person who is best at doing any job she manages. Not really. She just needs to be able to manage the people who do those jobs and do the other managerial stuff, like evaluate the work, represent her staff to her manager and peers, support her staff with development, monitor the workload, etc. It’s a different job.

        2. Dan*

          Even then, those are two different skillsets. I write code / do analysis for a living. My boss doesn’t need to know how to code, but he does need to know how to evaluate my work product. I can be the worst coder ever, but if my work is delivering appropriate value to the organization, that may be all that matters.

          Also, there are plenty of situations where the person doing the work may need to be licensed, but their manager may not be. In those cases, the manager may very well be educated in the field that he manages, but that the market demands do not require higher pay than his report.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            My experience has been that managers who have a stronger, more detailed understanding of their reports’ work can provide better support and more detailed feedback and decision-making — in short, better management, which delivers better value. It’s not a substitute for specific management skills, of course, but an add-on of value.

            1. Dan*

              I totally agree. But I think the nuance lies in how one defines “understanding of work”.
              I work in a niche domain — what’s *most* important for me in a manager is a manager who understands the domain. How a given task is approached has everything to do with that understanding. The evaluation of a work product has everything to do with that understanding. If you ask me, that’s more on the “requirements” side.

              A manager who codes is more on the “plus” side. Sure, it’s nice when a manager codes, so if I tell them approach A is more efficient than approach B, they don’t ask me a million questions about it. The other plus is that if I say something is hard or time consuming, a non-coder may give me more flak.

              Sure, it’s nice to have a manager who is well versed in both the domain and technical side, but those people are few and far between. Given a choice, I’d rather have a manager strong in domain knowledge. I can get technical guidance just about anywhere.

      2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

        Agreed. I’ve worked on and off in healthcare, and it’s very common for a non-physician, nurse, etc., to be managing physicians, nurses, PTs, etc., and make less, because the technical expertise of a physician demands a certain level of pay which is not warranted by his or her non-MD/DO manager.

    6. BRR*

      I think there are situations where it’s fine. My cousin was in sales and was promoted to managing the sales staff. He said a fair amount earned more than him and said it made sense for his company. He later went back to a sales role from a manager role because he could earn more.

  16. Ali G*

    Also don’t forget, that unless this is a really small company, your boss can’t just *give* you a raise. She has to propose it to her boss, who has to agree, then it has to probably go to HR to make sure you are within the range for your position and then usually someone like the CFO has to give the final approval.
    So other people besides your boss agreed you were underpaid.

    Just as an aside – I actually took a small pay cut (5k) to go from non-profit to for profit at one time. My upward trajectory was probably a lot quicker at the for profit, but I just wanted to point out that not all non-profits pay peanuts.

    1. Bea*

      On the flip side, many for profits pay garbage wages and don’t offer increases as well. So both could be paying peanuts.

  17. Nonna*

    Coming from nonprofit, my new salary was a big improvement. My workload is so much less, I recognise the feelings of feeling a little guilty. At the nonprofit I was overloaded with work and really getting health issues from the stress. Now I am working less (not staying late everyday anymore, yay!), and getting paid much more with much better benefits. I know from having researched this is a normal salary for the type of job and industry but I can’t help feeling the guilt sometimes!

  18. The Friendly Comp Manager*

    Depending on what state OP is in, it may be illegal for him to be required to disclose current pay information or pay history to potential employers. I work for a multi-state (and multi-country) company, and in order to respond to the pay history requirements put in place in states like CA, OR, and MA, we don’t allow hiring managers or recruiters to ask for pay history for any candidates, at all, regardless of state.

    Not all employers are doing this, but if OP is in a state that has these limitations, it might be fine. You can speak to desired pay with potential employers, which really should be the focus anyway.

  19. PiggyStardust*

    I work for a non-profit and make a fair bit more than I did at previous non-profits. I recently asked for a raise (they rewrote my job description to include some new things) and when they reviewed my salary based on similar jobs in other non-profits, they decided a 15% raise would be fair. It was far more than I was hoping for and made me feel overpaid compared to my previous jobs. The difference is now I’m getting paid market value — previously I was drastically underpaid in a company struggling to stay afloat.

  20. Chaordic One*

    It sort of sounds like the OP might have a mild case of “imposter syndrome.” Yes, you really are worth it and the salary is fair.

    The real problem is that there are so many employers (both for-profit and non-profit) that underpay their employees. Be glad that you are not working for one of those. It may not last, but enjoy it while you can and make sure that you are earning that money. (I’m really not worried about you not earning the money.)

  21. grey*

    Imposter Syndrome is a real thing. I’ve suffered from it. Please look into it and find ways to reassure yourself because I am positive you are being paid what you are worth.

  22. Dorothy Zbornak*

    I moved to a higher cost of living city for a new job and felt that with the impressive pay bump, I was finally getting paid what I was worth… I just assumed the whole organization paid similarly well. But due to my administrative role, I’ve seen job descriptions with listed salaries come across my desk, and roles that look like they should be making more than me are actually making less. Roles like Senior Finance Director and Senior Project Manager have lower salaries than mine. I joined my org during a very slow time of year where literally everyone is out on vacation, so I feel like I’m twiddling my thumbs and not earning my money at ALL, and I feel like I’m just waiting for them to realize it. I know it’ll pick up after summer’s over, but I’m feeling a whole lot of impostor syndrome right now.

  23. Urn*

    Jesus H, it’s a FOR PROFIT company. Take as much as you can get and count your blessings. You owe them nothing other than completing the labor you agreed to, and you know they’d expliot you in a heartbeat if push came to shove.

    Don’t martyr yourself.

    1. Bea*

      JFC your hostile towards businesses that exist for the sake of earning a profit. Like a huge portion of businesses do.

      Corporations often have good benefits and do take care of their employees. They’re not waiting to get every last drop of sweat out of you to discard you like a used moist towelette.

  24. CNS*

    I’d go with Allison’s suggestion and save up! And if you need to re-frame it, think of it as a bonus from all the years at the nonprofit where you were possibly underpaid (not sure how true it could be for your case). If you do fear it’s because of more nefarious reasons (i.e. because of the huge bump they wouldn’t give you standard raises throughout your time at the company), you’d at least have a solid cushion in the case of having to find a new job or switch careers. And maybe use future review times as a gauge for what kind of increase you can expect so you’re not still worrying further down the line (or maybe verify with HR prior to the next review so you don’t have to second guess)?

  25. OyVey*

    My spouse is considering a jump from government to for profit work. Spouse has spent the last 72 hours stuttering over the pay raise they’d get if successful in making the transition. I think that’s a pretty common reaction to moving from non profit or government to the for profit sector

  26. Sacred Ground*

    I’d like to read the linked article with your response, but Inc. website won’t let me see it at all.

    All I get is a full-screen autoplaying video ad with no option to skip that just starts over again if you let it play to the end. It never does continue to the actual article.

    I’m using an iPad 3 running the Safari browser. So, no Inc. for me!

  27. Snark*

    I feel like nonprofits can really mess with people’s heads around compensation, fairness, and what an employee owes an employer. Too many years sacrificing pay, work-life balance, and proportion in service to “the cause” leads workers to severely undervalue their own labor and to overvalue the interests of the org they work for.

    OP: the value of your labor is what your employer offers and what you accept. I view it as basically impossible to be “overpaid,” in most circumstances. If you are offered a rate of pay, and you take it, that is the value of your work. Go forth and worry no more.

  28. Jill*

    I work in the public sector and I am definately overpaid, even compared to my public-sector counterparts. I do as Alison suggested and treat this like a “temporary windfall” by living on my previous salary, which was great to begin with, and putting the rest in savings.

    If I’m pushed for my salary in the future and cannot dodge it, I think I’d preface it by saying, “I know sometimes public sector salary ranges are not always in line with what the private sector pays for similar work. I was paid $X but I’d be happy to negotiate a salary in the range of [normal industry standard range]. “

  29. Coffee*

    It depends on your workplace I guess – in mine, managers are responsible for a lot more (decisions, quality control, strategic planning, fixing problems/handling “crisis”, etc), along with the work of managing staff. Therefore they get paid more than the specialists who get to concentrate on their own work and ignore everything else. So perhaps that’s where your manager is coming from.

    (Some specialists are indeed worth paying more to retain/in line with market rates/etc. But it depends on your workplace.)

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