{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Salary/step negotiation help! Is it better to start at a low step, higher GS or a high step, lower GS with a higher salary?\nE.g., GS-9 step 10 at $78,167 or GS-11 step 1 at $72,750.", "post_id": "608b33e9cda597002108bf61", "reply_count": 9, "vote_count": 2, "bowl_id": "58f80ce1ae9f610010f866bb", "bowl_name": "Federal, Government, and Public Sector", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Salary/step negotiation help! Is it better to start at a low step, higher GS or a high step, lower GS with a higher salary?
E.g., GS-9 step 10 at $78,167 or GS-11 step 1 at $72,750.

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higher GS easy

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Step increases come with staying alive and not quitting. Grade increases come with politics and BS. Get ahead wherever you can.

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Always take the higher GS. Step increases are equivalent to longevity raises.

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Always GS

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Is this a ladder position? What is the top GS the position promotes to? If you can ladder (get a GS promotion) every year to say GS-13 I’d take the lower GS, higher step. Steps are the gift that keep on giving. Ie if you’re a GS9 step 10 you should be round a GS 11 Step 5 the following year. It’s up to you how fast you want to make 13 etc and you can look at the table and calculate the salary differences each year. If the position doesn’t promote each year go with the higher GS.

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Yep it’s a ladder position maxing out at GS 13. Ive gotten mixed feedback—some folks have said it’s better to go for the higher starting salary, others have said do the higher GS if you can get it

Confused—are you asking how to choose between 2 offers at different grades/steps, or what grade/step to counter for a position you’ve been offered?

One major benefit of some government jobs is that the path to promotion is very clear.

So if promotion seems pretty easy and accelerated (for example, one year of training will bump up your GS level) higher step might be better.

If the 9 position is the ladder that tops at 13, go with it. As long as there aren't any politics/budget issues at play preventing you from climbing a grade each year, your annual comp trajectory in the ladder position from a 9-10 would go:
Y1: $78.1k (9-10)
Y2: $82.4k (11-5)
Y3: $90.1 (12-2)
Y4: $103.6k (13-1)

If the 11 isn't a ladder position, then you'd just be stepping out from step 1, which would put you at $80k in Y4. It's not at all easy to get promos outside of ladder positions, so factor that in as well. You might be able to come in as an 11 with initial higher starting pay, but then be stuck as an 11 for years trying to get a 12.

I was a fed HM at two civilian agencies, happy to answer any questions you might have.

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