Many American workers think they’re getting stiffed by their employer, and they might be right. Only 49% of people surveyed by staffing company Robert Half believe they’re being paid fairly, while 46% say they’re underpaid. A lucky 5% think they’re getting more than they deserve.
Workers were most likely to feel underpaid in San Diego, where 62% thought their paychecks should be larger. The majority of workers in Austin, Houston, Nashville, and Philadelphia also felt their paychecks were too puny. Women were more likely to feel underpaid than men, as were younger workers. Unsurprisingly, those earning more than $100,000 were also more likely to feel their compensation were fair than people with lower salaries.
Are employees right to feel put out about the numbers on their pay stub? In some cases, yes. When job search website Glassdoor analyzed salary data, it found that the typical American workers was underpaid by about $7,500.
“Some firms have not kept up with shifts in market demand and continue to use old job classifications and salary bands,” Paul McDonald, a senior executive director with Robert Half, said. Companies that haven’t reviewed compensation plans in the last six months could be working with outdated numbers, he noted.
Determining your worth
Rather than relying on your gut to determine if you’ve gotten the short end of the salary stick, start with a salary calculator. Most use some combination of job title, years of experience, and location to estimate how much you should be paid. Here are a few to try:
- Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth salary estimator: After submitting some information about your career and education, this calculator spits out an estimate of your market value based on salaries for open jobs as well as real salaries people have submitted to Glassdoor.
- Payscale’s What Am I Worth? tool: This tool provides a customized report that incorporates information about your years of experience, education, and skills.
- LinkedIn Salary: Enter a job title and location to get an idea of the typical salary for someone in your field.
- Dice Salary Calculator: Input your title, location, and years of experience to get a salary range from this tech-focused career site.
While salary estimates you can get from these sites are useful, they have limits. Your specific background can push your salary up or down. So can working at a certain company or in a particular industry. The numbers salary calculators use to produce their estimates are often self-reported and might not be a representative sample. Plus, the calculators don’t take into account other benefits, like paid health insurance premiums, a 401(k) match, or generous time off, that affect your total compensation.
Getting the raise you deserve
If your research reveals that you should be getting paid $10,000 more than you currently are, you might be tempted to march straight into your boss’s office and demand your due. Resist the urge.
Estimates from salary websites can be part of your case for why you deserve a salary bump. However, you’ll also need to prove your individual worth to the higher-ups. Before asking for a raise, gather evidence of specific accomplishments that have benefited your employer, advises the Wall Street Journal. And make sure to pick the right time to make your case. If business is down and layoffs seem imminent, your plea for a raise is likely to fall on deaf ears.
When you sit down with your boss, you want to be confident and professional, not combative. Threatening to leave could jeopardize your relationship with your boss, even if you do achieve your short-term goal of getting a raise, notes The Muse.
And if your employer isn’t willing to budge on your salary? Then it might be time to dust off your resume and find a new job where you’re paid what you’re really worth.
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