Career Advice

What to Do When a Coworker With Less Experience Makes More Than You

Here’s a workplace injustice that’s hard to accept: a coworker makes more money than you, even though you’ve been in the company longer. 

Say you’ve been working for this company for 5+ years now. You’re a hard worker who always does your best. You feel you deserve to get paid more. Now, imagine your disappointment (and frustration) when you find out your coworker who just arrived already has a higher salary than you. 

So what to do when a coworker with less experience makes more than you? Let’s find out!

Read More: New Employee Promoted Before Me: How To Deal With It In Professional Way

6 Tips on What to Do When Coworkers Make More Salary Than You

“My coworker makes more than me even though I’ve been here longer.” If you find yourself complaining about this, here are 6 tips on what to do when a coworker with less experience makes more than you:

  1. Figure out if it’s about pay disparity 
  2. Stay calm and professional
  3. Continue to perform well
  4. Do your research
  5. Specify your desired salary
  6. Ask for a raise

1. Figure out if it’s about pay disparity

Sarah Magazzo from Mondo National Staffing Agency says:

Pay disparity is a term used to describe an unequal distribution of wages between people doing similar work. It can refer to gender discrepancies, racial gaps, or any other kind of wage inequality.

Suppose you’re a female worker and you notice that “my male coworker makes more than me.” This is pay disparity. Unfortunately, a 2022 study by Forbes showed that, on average, women earned 17% less than men. So this is still a very real issue. 

Besides gender discrepancies, there are also racial inequalities. Here’s an excerpt from a Forbes study:

This disparity is even greater for women of color, with African American women earning just 60 cents and Latinas earning only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.

OK, it’s important to keep in mind that this might not be the reason you’re earning less than your less experienced co-worker. This is why you need to go out about this wisely. You have to investigate closely. 

Other reasons why you’re paid less include:

  • The company might have different pay rates depending on the job role. Your colleague is in a position that earns more than you. 
  • Your coworker may have received higher performance ratings or evaluations. As a result, they received merit-based salary increases, bonuses, or promotions that you did not receive.
  • Your coworker’s skills, qualifications, or expertise may be in higher demand in the job market compared to yours, which could influence their salary. So even though you have more experience, you’re less qualified in these areas. 
  • Your coworker might have negotiated their salary more effectively during the hiring process or subsequent performance reviews. This leads them to a higher compensation package than yours.

2. Remain calm and professional

No matter the reason, the first thing you need to do is remain calm and professional. Yes, I know you’re upset, angry, or even hurt.

You want to barge into your boss’ office and demand to be paid fairly. Maybe you’re even thinking of making that person’s life hard by spreading rumors or trying to get them fired

That won’t do. In fact, it will only make things worse for you. So take a deep breath and relax. There is a much better way to address this situation. 

Read More: 6 Powerful Tips On Asking For A Raise When A Coworker Quits

3. Continue to perform well 

Don’t let someone new ruin your reputation. You might feel resentful towards your boss or HR and so want to make it hard for them. You arrive late, skip deadlines, don’t do your job well, ignore them, etc…

No, no. It’s not the time to be petty. Instead, it’s best to continue with your good performance. You can even work harder to excel more and gain the recognition you deserve. If not, your end goal is to ask for a raise. And you need to have enough proof that you deserve it. 

4. Do your research

Before you start your salary negotiation, it’s crucial to do some homework. You need to go armed with the right salary information. 

Do some research to find out the average salary ranges for positions similar to yours in the area you work in. This will give you an idea of what is expected and can help you determine if your salary is fair. – Sarah Magazzo

If it’s not fair, then you have a great arsenal to take action. First, you have many years of experience. Second, you do your duties faithfully. Third, you have proof of what is a base salary for your role. 

However, if you discover that the amount of money you earn is the appropriate salary, you may need to stop and consider first. Do you deserve to be paid more? Forget the new hire. Think about YOUR role. 

Read More: What NOT to Say When Asking for a Raise: 7 Phrases to Avoid

5. Specify your desired salary

Say you’re earning around $3,000. That is your minimum acceptable salary to pay for your needs. However, a few extras could make you happy. Say around $3,500 to $4,000. You’ll be paid significantly more than your daily necessities. 

Sarah Magazzo advises:

Once you know the average salary range and have done research about what other people in similar roles make, take the time to define the exact amount of money that you would like to be making. It’s important to remember that the figure should be realistic and based on what is fair for the job you are doing.

It’s good to have a clear figure in your mind before you ask your boss for a raise. A 10% to 20% salary raise is a good starting point

6. Ask for a raise

Now you can start negotiating. Here’s a quick stat that you’ll want to hear: A report by PayScale showed that 70% of employees who asked for a pay raise received one. Even better, 39% of the 70% got the amount they asked for

Of course, you need to ask the right way. Here are some tips:

  • Choose the right timing. Timing is crucial when asking for a raise. Consider scheduling your request during a performance review, after completing a successful project, or when you’ve been with the company for a significant amount of time.
  • Keep it professional. Don’t start ranting that so-and-so earns more than you and they do much less. Again, ignore those less experienced colleagues. You need to focus on YOU and your professional profile. 
  • Prove your value. Show your achievements, productivity, credentials, and other pros. Let the manager see that you deserve that raise. You can even provide documents for proof. 
  • Be confident. Yes, it can be scary to demand a raise. You might go through a variety of emotions. Don’t let them get to you. Instead, show confidence. Sit up straight, keep eye contact, listen attentively, and speak assertively. If you’re especially nervous, take time to prepare and practice your pitch. 
  • Be open to feedback. Be prepared for a range of responses, including counteroffers, deferrals, or requests for additional information. Listen attentively to your employer’s feedback and be open to constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement.
  • Consider non-monetary benefits. Let’s say a raise is not possible. Well, you can ask for other perks, including vacation days, flexible working hours, professional development opportunities, performance-based bonuses, etc…
  • Be persistent but patient. Let’s say your manager’s decision is to decline your request. Don’t get discouraged. Keep doing great at work. Soon, you can try again. 

Final Words

What to do when a coworker with less experience makes more than you? For one, you need to stop focusing on them and start focusing on yourself. From there, you can work your way to asking for a raise. If you follow the 6 tips I provided here, you’ll have a much better chance of boosting your income. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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