I’m Underpaid Compared To My Peers. How Do I Bring This Up To My Boss?

“I’ve just found out that I’m being under-compensated. When I speak to my boss on this, should I bring up how my peer is being compensated vs myself given that we hold similar job scope / responsibilities?”

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Unless your company has a policy of salary transparency or your country has an Equal Pay Act, using your peer’s compensation can be viewed as unprofessional and get yourself (where did you get that information?) or your peer (if he/she is supposed to keep his salary confidential) into trouble. Also, you want your employer to see that it is right for you to deserve a higher pay because of the value you have brought and can bring to the table. Not only because the person next to you is being paid more.

That’s not to say you should stay silent on the matter. Here are my three cents’ worth on navigating this tricky conversation.

  1. Highlight your achievements and unique contributions to the role, and how you have fulfilled or exceeded expectations. Be honest with yourself. If you can’t even find your own merits and articulate them, there might just be a good reason why you’re “underpaid”. And if you find your employer disagreeing with your valuation of yourself, ask him to explain his opinions.
  2. Do and cite your research – whether it’s from public online job postings on job boards, or through conversations with headhunters, get a good sense of your own market worth. If your company is open about salary ranges, check where you are (you should be near to or at the midpoint if you are consistently meeting performance expectations over at least a year) and that can be used as another point of reference.
  3. Make sure you keep the discussion professional and objective. You don’t want to be labelled a complainer or a gold-digger. You are simply asking to be paid fairly and in line with the market.

Negotiating pay raises is never fun, and remember that there is no guarantee you will get it. One key thing to keep in mind – Life is not fair! But at the very least, you’d have officially raised the issue with your employer, and you can plan your next steps if they choose not to do anything to correct the inequity.

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