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What to Do if You Think You're Underpaid

Steps to Take if You're Underpaid
Credit: bunyarit klinsukhon/Shutterstock

It's not a great feeling when you think you're underpaid. You feel unappreciated and overworked, and it makes going into work a drag. However, with the right game plan, proper preparation and negotiation skills, you should be able to increase your salary.

Here are the steps to take if you think you're being underpaid.

"The first step is to figure out what you're actually worth by understanding average salaries for people in your role and those surrounding it," said Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at Jobvite

Thankfully, there are many online resources such as Glassdoor, Salary.com, PayScale, LinkedIn, Monster and Indeed to help you determine if you're being underpaid.    

If you go into a salary negotiation without doing your research, it could hurt your career and chances at getting what you deserve. "Go into any salary conversation without knowing the facts, and you run the risk of botching the whole process," Bitte added.

Along with researching online, you can consult with people in your industry such as old co-workers and contacts on LinkedIn.

"Ask former bosses and colleagues who no longer work with you for a going rate," said Vicki Salemi, Monster career expert. "Ask them to consider if they were to hire someone with your experience, skill set and credentials, what would the salary be?"

Salemi also suggests asking your company, because some have full transparency online or through their HR departments. "It's OK to ask for pay ranges for your position; just be mindful that pay ranges may overlap, and the high end of your current role may be at the low end of the role above you," she said. 

Once you've done your research and chatted with people in your industry, it's time to talk with your manager about a raise. While this may be intimidating, if you don't ask, the answer is always no.

"The truth is that negotiating your salary is a necessity, especially if you are underpaid," said Bitte. "Increasing your income now can change the trajectory of your future compensation, which is crucial to maximizing your earning potential throughout your career."

Salemi recommends asking for raise after you've just accomplished something big and it's fresh in your boss's mind. "Another time is before or during a salary review, not after," she added. "Depending on that company, raises only occur once a year, so if you miss that window, you're out of luck."

So, you've done your research and know what you're worth, but your manager doesn't want to give you a raise. What should you do?

"Don't give up! Most younger workers presume that a no is the end of the conversation, but that's simply not the case," Bitte said. "It's often unlikely your boss will give in on the first ask, so think of salary negotiations as an ongoing conversation."

She suggests following up a couple months later and noting the contributions you've made to the company since the last conversation.

However, if after a couple of conversations your manager still isn't willing to give you an increase, it may be time to start looking for a new gig. "If you ask for a raise and receive a no, one option is to stay and continue to be underpaid and overworked," Salemi said. "Another option is to leave and search for a new job."

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.