Being Underpaid At Work: The Ultimate Guide

During your career, you may wonder whether you are paid properly. But if you need to figure out which signs you need to observe, you may not even realize that you are underpaid.

Recognizing the signals and taking appropriate measures can ensure that the salary reflects the work you contribute based on your education and professional experience.

Below are some signs that indicate you are underpaid and the proven strategies that can be adopted to overcome them.

How To Know If You Are Underpaid?

Below are a few signs indicating whether your salary is fair.

Below Average Online Pay

Researching online to find average salary data for your position is the first step to determining whether you are underpaid.

It is possible that you are underpaid if the listed annual average wage is lower than your current salary.

Online Calculator Suggests Underpayment: A Red Flag

An online salary calculator can help determine whether you are appropriately paid for your position.

These calculators provide metrics specific to your position in the industry based on relevant experience or years of education.

More Duties, No Raise

You must be compensated for the work that you are doing. If you find that your work or responsibilities have increased while your salary has remained stagnant, you are underpaid.

Less Benefits Than Peers.

When you talk to your co-workers, you realize you are not receiving the same benefits.

Consider examples like paid leaves or time off. You may be underpaid if your benefits are lower than those of your colleagues, even if your salaries are comparable.

Same Pay, Different Industry

Suppose you have recently transitioned into a high-paying industry, and your starting position is based on a low salary from your previous role.

In that case, there is a possibility that you are underpaid.

Stuck at the Same Pay

You could be underpaid if you have not negotiated for a higher salary. If you have gone on to stay in the same position in the organization for a considerable time, negotiating for a higher salary ensures that you are paid fairly for your work.

Higher Pay for Same Role.

Brainstorm the positions in your company that have similar work responsibilities and professional backgrounds.

If those positions go on to pay more than yours, it’s a sign that you’re being underpaid.

Peers Earn More with similar experience and education

Focus on the similarities between your credentials and those of your colleague. If the education is comparable and you have professional experience, but your salary is less than theirs, then the signs are evident that you are underpaid.

You may have yet to have a performance review in recent years.

Performance reviews do not allow the employees to discuss the quality of their work or their growth as an employee.

If you are underpaid, make sure that you need to schedule and participate in regular performance reviews. This could provide beneficial opportunities for employees to discuss with their employers.

The recruiter may suggest that you are underpaid.

A job recruiter may provide you with insights into the average salaries for the various positions in your industry.

Discussing salaries or industry trends with a job recruiter can give you insights into whether you are being properly paid or underpaid.

Inverted Pay Scale

Check out the new positions in your company. If the new role requires less experience than you currently have but offers higher salaries, then there is a possibility that you are underpaid.

Higher Pay in Similar Roles.

The salary from any position varies from city to city, and it is better that you assess your salary where you reside.

You need to research similar positions in your region; this will help you determine whether you are staying properly.

Stagnant Salary

When you first started working, you may have accepted a low-paying job. But you can always earn raises over time to get it up to a fairer level. On the other hand, if you have been in a role for a specified period and your salary has not increased, then you are underpaid.

Misaligned Salary with Expertise

There are a few industries where positions require niche skill sets or specific years of experience. If you find that your career is highly specialised, the salary needs to reflect the unique skills you bring to the role.

Undervalued Career Demand

Once again, it depends upon the industry, like technology or healthcare, in which your career may be in widespread demand. If this is the case, your salary must reflect the increased demand.

Higher Paying Offer.

You would be actively searching for a new position at another company. During this process, you will be underpaid at your current job if the role for which you are interviewing for a higher salary is what your company is going to provide.

Unadjusted for Inflation.

Keep in mind that the value of the dollar changes and your salary has to take into account the inflation trends. If the salary increases over time but is not significant, it leads to assessing inflation and determining whether your salary has to be higher.

Recent Hires at Higher Pay.

If the company provides higher salaries to the people who have recently joined the company to fill existing positions, then it is likely that you are not paid fairly. This is for the work that you contribute to the organisation.

High Turnover Rate.

Take into consideration how frequently your colleagues resign and how quickly your company hires candidates to fill these positions. The turnover rate is a fair reflection that could indicate that past colleagues feel like they are not paid properly for their work.

Stagnant Salary Despite Company Profits.

Working with a company with good momentum and earning a lot of money is exciting. But still, there exists a possibility that you are underpaid if your salary remains the same despite the growth of the company.

What To Do If You Are Underpaid? Here are Things You Can Do

If you suspect that you are underpaid, the first thing that you need to do is conduct proper research. Check out the salary for your position in the current company where you are working, your educational background, and your years of experience.

You need to compare your salary with an average compensation package and the perks and benefits.

If you are of the opinion that you are underpaid, then you can take the following steps:

Discuss with a trusted colleague.

Discussing your feelings with a co-worker will not convey your feelings, but it will provide insight into how you are compensated.

Though they would not be keen to discuss their salaries, you may find inconsistencies between the benefits and the salaries.

Salary negotiation

Schedule a meeting with your employee for salary negotiations.

Before this conversation, research the average annual salary data to use as examples to support your claims regarding your current salary and why you feel it should be higher.

Showcase the amount of work you have put into the position based on your unique skills and experience.

Search for new positions elsewhere.

If the interaction with your employee does not yield positive results, then it is better that you search for positions outside the company where you will be paid fairly.

You must research job openings and salaries in your area before choosing a specific role.


In short, your salary should be according to industry standards set by the industry in which you work, and your education and experience levels have a definite say in this regard.

If you come across any of the signs mentioned above, it is better to discuss your employee with your salary. Make it a point that relevant data should back up any claim you make.

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