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Am I underpaid? How to know and tips to do something about it

Am I underpaid? How to know and tips to do something about it

  • How do I know if I am underpaid?
  • 4 Tips to deal with being underpaid
  • Key takeaways

If the answer to “Am I underpaid?” is yes, then you’re not going to feel like jumping out of bed in the morning and delivering your best performance at work. Developing a game plan is vital. Read our expert guide with top tips and strategies to ensure you’re compensated for the value you bring to the company.

Overworked and underpaid? If you’re feeling one and/or the other, it can be frustrating. Maybe Adam from marketing quit, so you’re covering his job now but you didn’t get a raise, or perhaps you heard that your counterpart has a higher salary. “Am I underpaid?” is a common question.

Valuing yourself includes being properly compensated for the value you bring to a company. It’s all about self-respect and knowing your worth. You may find out that you're actually in a pretty sweet spot in your current job, but if not, you can address this and move forward in your career. 

In this article, we explore:

  • How to find out if you’re underpaid

  • 4 tips to deal with being underpaid

Statistical Insight

According to Gartner, only 32 percent of employees believe their pay is fair. Perceived pay gaps are being further exacerbated by economic factors (rising inflation and the hot labor market), which is causing a shift in compensation between tenured employees and new hires.

How do I know if I am underpaid?

It can be tricky to find out if you’re underpaid. Asking your co-workers what their salaries are or speaking with your boss directly on the matter may be awkward and uncomfortable. 

Here’s four red flags to look out for if you suspect you’re underpaid:

1. Your salary is lower than online averages

Researching average salaries of fellow professionals in your chosen field can help you get a better understanding of whether or not you’re underpaid. Include your desired work location as well as your specific job title to get an accurate figure. This information is useful for future salary negotiations. 

Expert Tip

If you’re wondering where to find accurate and up-to-date information on average salaries, check out Career.io’s Salary Analyzer to find median salary ranges for numerous jobs and specific sectors that you can use as a baseline. 

2. You’ve never had a performance review

Performance reviews are important for your professional growth and provide an opportunity to discuss salary. You may find out at a networking event that a fellow professional is extremely happy at their company due to regular performance reviews, CPD opportunities, and annual salary increases. If you aren’t having any performance reviews, then it could be a strong indicator that you’re missing out on these perks.

3. You’ve been given additional responsibilities but no salary increase

Being awarded additional responsibilities in recognition of your strong performance can initially feel great, until you realize that this doesn’t mean extra compensation. Whether you’ve been promoted or are covering for a coworker who left the company, an increased workload with zero raise in salary is a red flag that you’re underpaid.

4. New hires earn more money

When the company is recruiting, keep an eye on job postings to see if new hires are being offered salary ranges that are a lot higher than your current salary. This can be a strong indicator that you’re underpaid.

  • Factor in any specialized training or higher-level education when evaluating your salary as this should enhance your worth and compensation.
  • Forget inflation or company growth when considering salary. Increased cost of living and/or increased growth/profit should equate to increased salary.

4 Tips to deal with being underpaid

You’ve done your research and found out that you are actually underpaid, so now what? Here are four tips on tackling the thorny issue of being underpaid:

1. Remain calm and professional 

While it can be easier said than done, staying calm and professional is critical if you find out that you’re earning a lot less than your peers. Getting angry won’t help the situation, instead channel your energy towards resolving the situation.

2. Identify any skill gaps

Take time to reflect on your performance and assess if there are any skill gaps you need to fill. If there are areas that need improvement, take the time to fill these gaps so you’re fully prepared for a conversation with your boss.  

3. Prepare to speak to your boss 

When negotiating a salary increase, you’ll be far more successful if you have evidence to support your request. Average salary information, conversations with mentors, and specific accomplishments are all ways you can demonstrate your worth to your boss. 

4. Consider a new job

If you’ve exhausted all avenues and feel that you’re unable to secure your desired salary, then maybe it’s time to search for a new job. It goes without saying to take time over this decision as the grass isn’t always greener. Research demand in the job market you’re targeting and make sure your potential new job will be the right move. Also read our article: Should you or shouldn't you? How to use a job offer to get a raise.

After analyzing your salary and realizing your current position isn’t what you wanted, visit Career.io’s Job Search Strategy service for help finding that ideal job.

Key takeaways

  1. If you suspect you’re underpaid, research average salaries, consult a mentor, request a performance review, and keep an eye on salary ranges in your company’s job postings.

  2. When tackling the issue of being underpaid with your boss, it’s important to stay calm, identify any skill gaps, and collate evidence to support your case for a salary increase.

  3. Know your value and worth. The best case scenario will lead to receiving a salary that you deserve, and if not, you always have the option of finding a new job.

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