June 3, 2022
5 min read

Are you underpaid? 12 signs to find out!

Written by
Angel Lim

Ever wondered if you are underpaid? We’ve listed down 12 signs that you could be underpaid and offered ways to deal with them!

You close your laptop. It’s dark outside when you leave the office.

You are exhausted. Every time, on the way back home, all you can think about is, “Is this really worth it?”

Are you happy and satisfied with the job you do and your pay?  

You begin to ask yourself: am I getting paid enough?

Here are 12ways to find out and deal with being underpaid.

girl holding coffee cup with sticky notes all over
You are exhausted and start questioning yourself if everything is worth it.

12 Signs You’re Being Underpaid at Work

1.     Your salary is lower than an online salary calculator or suggested databases

Online job posting sites such as Glassdoor, Payscale, or Salary.com can help you determine if you are underpaid.

These calculators use aggregated data to give you a ballpark of the salary range for your job type and industry. Be sure to account for your location and specific job title when you’re using these websites.

If you are not even close to the range, and there’s a possibility you might be underpaid.

2.     Your salary remained the same despite the increased amount of work

Perhaps there has been a change of department, a colleague has left, you have been promoted, and there is a chance that your responsibilities will increase. 

A change in duties should always signal that it's time for a raise. You may not receive extra compensation for the extra work you do, but it is a sure sign that you are underpaid compared to others in your field with similar titles or responsibilities on your plate. 

So, if you take on more work without extra compensation, it’s time to ask for a raise.

employee puts his head down on table with laptop
Your work has increased but your pay remains.

3.     Similar positions at your company pay more

One of the ways you can find out your market value is by talking to people with the same or at least a similar job. 

When they feel comfortable, ask them how much they make and learn more about the scope of their work. Is it similar to yours? Or are they better paid for the same amount of work? 

If their positions pay more than your position does, you’re probably being underpaid.

4.     New hires in similar jobs are making more than you do 

Your company recently hired a new person for a role – similar to yours – they are negotiating salary and benefits based on today’s market rates.

But, the rates are probably higher than when you were hired years ago. Make sure you investigate what the salary is for a new hire in your role today, so you will know whether you’re being paid fairly.

5.     A recruiter mentioned you are underpaid 

Recruiters know best when it comes to salary. They are constantly hiring new roles and have a good sense of ​​the salary ranges a job role should be.

If you're trying to find out if you're underpaid, try an informal or formal interview and see what they can offer you.

Another great resource is talking to colleagues from other companies.They may feel more comfortable sharing their salaries with you since you don't work together.

Find out if you are underpaid by speaking to a recruiter.

6.     You have been in a role for years –and never get a significant raise

Staying in a company for a long time can lower your pay scale in the long run. 

Unfortunately, companies rarely adjust salaries for tenured employees. They should because it’s the right thing to do, but you can’t count on that. 

If you have been working at a company for 5+ years and have never had a significant salary raise, then it’s time you start researching salary ranges for your role.

7.     You haven’t negotiated a raise ever 

If you didn't ask for a raise, chances are you didn't get one. While a good will reward you for hard work, many are pinching pennies and saving costs – which might be at your expense. 

When was the last time you asked for a raise? If you have, did your employer adjust your annual salary?

If neither of these concepts rings a bell, you’re probably being underpaid.

8.     You haven’t had a performance review recently

Has your manager ever discussed the work you’ve been doing? Is there a plan for you to grow in the company?

A performance review is an ideal opportunity to discuss salary. If you haven’t had one, chances are, you haven’t had a natural opportunity to bring up your compensation. 

9.     Your job is in high demand but your salary doesn’t reflect that

Some industries require niche work skillsets or years of experience to do the work. For example, industries such as healthcare or technology may be in high demand.

If you have a specialised career with a unique view that makes you an asset to the company, your salary should reflect that.

You have specialised skills but your salary doesn't reflect that.

10.  You were offered a promotion – but not a salary raise

Are you getting a promotion recently without a raise? To be honest, that’s not really a promotion with no monetary reward.

Your manager keeps mentioning a raise if you show improvements and commitment during the year. Yet, the conversation stops at the end of the year.

Then theNew Year starts, and your salary is still the same. When you bring up the raise again, it won’t happen until the following year.

11.  Your company is making more money, but your salary remains

If your company recently acquired a big client, received funding, or launched a new service, these are signs that the organisation is growing.

Since the company’s performance has increased, it also impacted its revenue. However, if this is not affecting your salary, it’s time for a conversation.

12.  Your company has a high turnover rate

Are your colleagues resigning one after another? If you know your company has a high turnover rate and is urgently hiring to fill those roles, this can tell you two things.

First, people left because they felt they were underpaid.Next, people aren’t accepting new roles because they are not getting their desired salary.

If your colleagues are starting to look elsewhere, it’s a sign that the grass is greener somewhere else, but it can also put you in a stronger bargaining position as you hold knowledge and experience that new hires don’t.

Your colleagues are resigning because they feel they are being underpaid.

What do I do if I am underpaid?

  • Establish the facts. Do a little research first to make sure you are underpaid. Do some job market research and find out the average salary and benefits in your area. Then, talk to a trusted colleague to confirm your findings and go to the HR department.
  • Speak to your manager. Once you make your case, set a time with your manager for a meeting. Mention the objective of the meeting, include reasons why you feel underpaid and are willing to discuss the issue.
  • Look into new positions elsewhere. If the chat with your boss doesn’t go the way you hoped, you can always consider looking elsewhere. While contacting your manager, start preparing your resume so you can apply for other roles.  

Hopefully, the conversation goes well. But if it doesn’t, don’t despair. If your current employer won’t pay you what you deserve, know that there are plenty of companies out there that will – it’s just a matter of finding the right one.  

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