Signs You’re Underpaid at Your Workplace

The salary is among the many important factors that motivate you to work at your full capability. Most firms treat salary as confidential information. However, if at any time you feel that you are being paid less than your colleagues, do not worry – it is a normal feeling.

When you have been working at the same firm for a long time – probably even in the same department and the same role, you should compare your salary to the market average – for similar roles and the same duration of service.

With time, you gain experience and become more skillful on the job. It is only fair for you to expect that as you work hard, acquire additional skills, and contribute to the organization’s success, you should also be paid a reasonable salary that compares well to the market average.

But how can you assess what you should be paid? How do you know what your true worth is? It is first important for you to recognize the signs that tell you that you are underpaid compared to your counterparts who are in similar jobs in other firms in the industry.

How do I assess my worth?

There are some simple ways of assessing your worth as an employee:

⦁ Consult a recruiter
By the very nature of their jobs, recruiters are constantly evaluating resumes, talking to candidates, conducting interviews, and matching people to jobs. Their earnings from placing people depend on how high a salary they can get for the people that they help in getting placed. Therefore, the consultants are wired-in to the market and can assess what your skill level and experience are worth. You can also refer to specialized websites (example – Glassdoor) that provide such information on salaries.

⦁ Networking
Networking with your counterparts in the industry is essential. There are networking groups that you can become a member of. These networking groups allow you to interact with and share information with other individuals from the industry who are similarly skilled. Although people in networking groups usually do not discuss salaries, with time, you will be able to pick subtle clues that will help you assess what the fair compensation for your skill level and experience is.

⦁ Follow job postings
Numerous jobs are posted on job portals, social media sites, and in newspapers. On such job announcements, some recruiters – together with the job description, also post salary details. This is a good source for you to assess your worth.

Look out for these signs, they tell you that you are underpaid.

Besides assessing your worth, it is also important to be able to recognize the signs that will tell you that you are underpaid:

⦁ Your salary is lower than the market average
Once you have assessed your worth using any of the means explained above, you will know if you are being underpaid.

⦁ Changed responsibilities, same salary
If you have taken on additional responsibilities from what you began with, but your salary has remained constant, it is time to talk to your supervisor, you are probably being underpaid.

⦁ Your benefits are lower than that of your counterparts
If you notice that your counterparts are getting more benefits – for example, more days of leave – it is then likely that you are being paid less. Even if the salary is the same, your lesser benefits mean that you are being valued lower than your peers.

⦁ You have changed the industry, but the salary is the same
If you have changed jobs to an industry that normally pays more than your previous industry, and yet, you get paid the same salary – you are underpaid.

⦁ Extensive experience, stagnant salary
If you have been in the same job for a long time and have never negotiated for a higher salary and your salary is the same as what it was five years ago – you are underpaid. Negotiate periodic raises – It helps to match your salary to market averages.

⦁ Similar roles, higher salaries
If you observe that roles similar to yours, being posted on your firm’s job portal, are being offered higher salaries, or even roles with lower responsibilities are being paid more – it is an indication that you are underpaid.

⦁ Postponed performance appraisals
If your firm puts off performance appraisals for extended lengths of time and your salary remains at the same level, it is a sign that you are currently being underpaid.

⦁ The salary does not match your skills/specializations
If you possess specialized skills, you should scan job portals to assess what your skills and specializations are worth. If you are being paid lower than what the job portals indicate – you are underpaid.

⦁ Increased inflation, same salary
If inflation has gone up, but your salary has remained the same – you are being underpaid.

⦁ Recent hires are paid higher
If you observe that your firm is paying higher salaries to newer hires, you are underpaid.

⦁ The firm is more profitable, but your salary is unchanged
If you learn that your firm has become more profitable and there has been no increase in your salary, you are being paid less than what you deserve.

Based on the above signs, if you realize that you are underpaid, you should first have a calm and reasoned discussion with your firm. Highlight your contributions and explain, with facts, why you think you are underpaid. If the discussion with the firm does not lead to a salary raise, you should begin to look for other firms that will pay you a fair salary.

It is only reasonable for you to expect that the firm you work for pays you a fair salary, matching your skills and experience.

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