Do This if You Are Underpaid

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Are Resumes Still Relevant? /Do This if You Are Underpaid

Do This if You Are Underpaid

Am I Underpaid?

You’ve been at your job for a few years, you’re a hard worker, you contribute to your team, and bring a lot to the table. You take responsibility for your work and team projects and often volunteer to help colleagues out when they need it. And yet, you are underpaid. Or your colleagues have had a pay rise or a promotion while you are receiving the same pay you’ve had for years, with no indication of a pay rise or promotion.

If you are underpaid and have not received the pay rise you deserve. Or, if you would like to know what you need to do now to increase your pay or ask for a pay rise, then this blog post is for you.

This blog post will explore the biggest reasons employees are underpaid and overlooked for a pay rise and what you can do about this today.

In no particular order, let’s look at the first reason and what you can do if you want to change this.

Why Am I Being Underpaid?

One of the biggest reasons employees are underpaid and fail to receive a pay rise is because most employees are unaware that others are earning more for the same work. Therefore they don’t ask for more money. It may sound basic, but a common misconception is, are everyone with the same job title receives roughly the same wage. Or that your employer should know you want a pay rise and give you one.

But this is rarely the case. You first have to believe it is possible to be paid more for the same role. Or understand that your employer may not know what you need unless you ask for it. Asking for a pay rise is about being able to advocate for yourself. Therefore it is something you need to be able to ask for.

If you ask for a pay rise and your employer says no, then the next question is: “What do you need to see from me for me to be able to receive a pay rise?”

It may feel like a blow to your ego to ask this question and wait for the response. But the truth is, at least you will know what is missing from your performance, and more importantly, how to rectify this so you get the outcome you want to see. 

What Can I Do if I Am Underpaid?

If you suspect you are underpaid, one of the most important things you must do is look into market salary data. This will help you understand the medium salary for your job role giving you data that you can use.

Many people tend to dread having the pay rise conversation with their managers. But this is a critical conversation to have and one that you do not need to dread. Just as you would ask your manager for the right equipment that would allow you to work more efficiently, the same is true of a pay rise. You are asking for compensation to enable you to contribute and deliver. Asking for a pay rise acknowledges what you need to be an effective worker. When looked at from this perspective, it is essential to ask for what you need. However, the real skill lies in how you ask. How you ask for a pay rise is important, so here are my four golden rules when speaking about being underpaid.  

The 4 Golden Rules if You Are Underpaid and Asking for a Pay Rise

1. Inform your manager ahead of time that you would like to speak about what it would look like to see an increase in your salary. That way, both parties can be prepared for the conversation.

2. Let your manager know that you value being a part of the organisation and have enjoyed being able to contribute to the success of the organisation. Back this up with evidence that demonstrates the value, output and contribution you have made and the impact of your contribution to the organisation.

3. Communicate your salary increase within a range with the amount you would like to see at the lowest point of the range. For example, I am looking to see an increase from $60k to $70k. $60k represents what you would like to earn. It would help if you based this figure on market research.

4. Wait for the response. Don’t be afraid of silence. If your manager needs more time, thank them for the time they have already given you for this conversation and ask when you should expect to hear from them again. 

If You Are Underpaid, Demonstrate Your Value

Another reason employees remain underpaid and fail to receive a pay rise, especially when they deserve one, is because they are not demonstrating the value they bring. Suppose you have made significant contributions to your team or achieved successful outcomes for the organisation. Or maybe you identified potential problems before things accelerated or were able to win over new clients. Perhaps your contribution is to encourage the team to stay focused on projects. Whatever you contribute to your team’s success or broader organisation, make sure your manager has noted this.

You can do this by asking colleagues to share your wins with management. Or include your manager in emails from clients acknowledging your success. Or by making sure you are talking about the progress you are making and the impact you are having during supervision.

At the very least, keep a written record of your successes, the value you have added, and the broader impact your input has made. Share this information confidently, especially during supervisions and or appraisals.

It is easy for managers to forget the input specific employees have had and miss critical contributions made by employees. Therefore, you need to record your successes and share this with management as and when they occur.  Successfully managing this conversation, takes practice, if you would like expert advice and practice before speaking with your manager, get in touch.   

Focus on Your Money Messaging

Often, employees remain underpaid and fail to receive a pay rise because of negative money messaging. Having worked with many clients, I know that sometimes there is a real fear around money. In particular, clients do not want to seem greedy for asking for more money. But this is not the case. Your employer has not done you a favour by employing you. They have calculated the return on their investment and are making a positive return due to hiring you. It would help if you communicated what you need to keep you motivated and work at your optimum. Asking for a pay rise is about creating a win-win for both parties. It is a sign of maturity, not greed. If you are struggling with asking for more money and making more money, a book I encourage you to read is the Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Or you can book a coaching call with me. 

Which Jobs Are Underpaid

Some specific jobs and industries are underpaid despite the value they provide society. Meaning these jobs do not receive a salary that matches the importance and necessity of these roles. For example, a registered nurse or a public school teacher does not receive an income that reflects the number of hours they work and the importance of their work. If receiving a high wage is your definition of career success, you may want to opt for better-paying professions. As underpaid jobs will have very fixed income amounts. Check out my career workbook for tips on defining career success, so you achieve your career goals.


A pay rise does not just happen for you unless you plan for it; follow through on your plan and ask for what you need. Many talented workers are working very hard and yet are underpaid, with no plan on how to rectify this. A pay rise is one of many ways to be compensated for the value you bring. It is essential you are adequately compensated; remember the words of Nelson Mandela “your playing small does not serve the world”. Go after what you deserve, and do not hesitate to go big. Contact me if you would like help breaking through your negative money messaging. It would be my pleasure to assist you in freeing you from your limiting beliefs. Read my blog post on how to avoid under earning to find out more.

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