When the New Kids Make More than the Old Hands

Are fresh young developers worth more than experienced old hands? That’s the question posed by Eric Speigel at EarthWeb. As he notes, it’s a phenomenon we’ve seen before.

When the New Kids Make More than the Old HandsThis sort of salary game has been played for decades based on new technology cycles. As the next new thing puts pressure on CIOs and CTOs to identify and integrate new technologies into their applications and products, a battle begins for the fresh talent who actually are on the cutting edge. Lost in all of this are the dedicated engineers who have put blood, sweat and tears into an organization, only to be left behind when technology changes. But is it their own fault? The company’s fault? Or just a natural cycle?

One of the lead programmers in Speigel’s company once discovered an online ad offering new employees with cutting-edge skills a salary 30 percent more than his. Confronted with the information, Speigel stumbles through a justification about unique skills, evolving environments and different job titles that lead to apples and oranges comparisons. But the programmer wasn’t mollified. Eventually, Speigel had no choice but to chalk it up to market forces and remind the programmer that he, too, would need to learn some of those new skills if he wanted to stay current. Harsh but true.

This is dangerous territory that puts employee morale on the line. Here’s hoping all the salaries in your department are justified to everyone’s satisfaction.

— Don Willmott