6 Signs You're Underpaid and How to Deal With It
Feature Image: Yovita Ananto
Are you at a job you thought you would love? Or did you accept a job because you were just eager to get one? Unfortunately, these scenarios are all too familiar. If you’re in one of these situations, little did you know that a low salary would get real old, real fast. But to solve this problem (yes, there’s a solution), you have to know the signs of being underpaid. Once you’re able to recognize that you’re being underpaid, you’ll know how to effectively deal with it.
1. Data and statistics are telling the truth
It’s imperative that you research what other people in similar positions are making. Staying on top of the current salaries for your type of position will only benefit you in the long run. And if data and statistics show that you are making less than you could (or should) be, that's usually a good sign that you're underpaid. However, if you’d like a more legitimate sign, use an online salary calculator to gauge what salaries other people are making. Punch in your role, education level, and years of experience, and the salary you should be making will pop right up.
2. You're making nearly the same as you did when you first accepted a job
Taking a job with a low salary right out of college is not uncommon. But are you still making that same amount? While taking a job out of desperation is normal, it’s also risky, because it can be hard to play catch-up if that job started with a low salary. On average, the longer you’re at a job, the more you should be paid. (Right?)
3. You have increasingly more responsibilities, but are making the same pay
Is your boss asking a lot of you? If you have more duties and are required to work longer hours, you should be getting appropriately compensated for it. Whether you ask for more hourly or a complete raise in salary, you should do so by highlighting how you go above and beyond for the company you’re working for relative to your initial job description. By seeing how much more you actually do, your employers might feel compelled to grant your wishes for higher pay.
4. Your job title got an upgrade, but your pay scale didn't
This feels like a promotion, but promotions are really two-fold experiences. When you get a better job title, you should also be getting a better salary. This logic makes perfect sense, so don’t be afraid to speak up for what you deserve.
5. You're in a job that is not high in demand
Some jobs are high in demand—and some are just not. For example, if you're a nurse, your job is high in demand. If your type of job is being replaced by computers or becoming more automated, it’s probably not as high in demand. That being said, if your job isn’t high in demand, you should be making more money than you are, simply because there are less workers like you.
6. You just have a gut feeling about it
Have you ever caught yourself taking an extra long break, stealing office supplies, or taking advantage of your workplace in some other way? If so, this is probably because you feel like they owe you something—subconsciously, at least. Hello, you're being underpaid!
Now that we've identified some of the signs that you're being underpaid, what can you do about it?
First, make a pros and cons list about your job and its respective workplace. Maybe you have awesome coworkers that make the not-enough-pay thing bearable. Or, maybe you don't and you cringe at the thought of getting up for work each day. If there are twice as many cons than there are pros for working at your specific job, you may consider applying for other jobs. However, always remember to remain diplomatic, professional, and dignified while you search for other jobs.
Second, make a list of what is expected from you. Try printing out your job description and highlight all that you do. Then, make a list of all that you do out of your own volition, just to make your boss's life easier. After doing that, show these lists to your boss and discuss getting a raise. It’s important to always remain polite and to never expect too much. Sometimes companies will be more than wiling to offer you a slight raise, and that’s something to be happy about—even if it’s only a slight upgrade. The fact that your employer is willing to budge at all is a clear sign you’re valued as an employee. TLDR: put yourself out there and ask for you want and, probably, deserve.
What are other things you can do if you think you're being underpaid?