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Are you underpaid or greedy?

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Pay day is approaching and once again you find yourself disappointed with your pay check. Or is it time for your yearly review and the only opportunity to get a salary uplift? Or have you just won a big contract for your company but only received a ‘thank you’?

Everyone could do with more money, even the richest want more, always more… Do you think Beyoncé gives interviews for free? She does it to get paid!

If you’re gonna go to your boss and demand more money, you have to be prepared to explain why. Remember that your boss will have to justify why they’re giving you an increase to their boss so they need to have a good reason to do it. So before you call a crisis meeting to ask for a raise or start looking for another job, ask yourself this: Why should I be paid more?

My team members are paid more / this job pays more somewhere else.

Ok, but why? Why has your boss decided that you were worth less than the others. Are other people more qualified or competent than you? Have you just started in this field of work?

  • If the answer is yes, then it makes sense for you to be paid less as you don’t deliver at the same level as the others. Think about, let’s say, getting a drink in a bar. A bigger boozy cocktail costs more than a soft drink; makes sense… Well, for now, you might be a soft drink.
  • If not and you know you’re giving away the same value as the rest of the team, or are massively below the market rate, it’s time to ask. Do a bit of investigation first and research what your job pays, both in your company and in the outside world.

We’re all paid the same but I am better / work harder.

Are you really that much better? Do you need to be? Has anyone asked you to deliver more than the rest of the team or do you do it naturally?

  • Let’s take the example or a junior recruiter, the job is to speak to candidates about a role, book their interviews and give them the outcome. If you spend time giving coaching sessions to candidates to help them find a job somewhere else or going to schools to help kids write their CVs, that’s amazing, but that’s not what your job is about. If the extra work you do doesn’t bring back any money your company, don’t expect to be paid for it.
  • However, if your boss is giving you extra projects, more challenging things to deal with, delegating some of their own work, then you shouldn’t do it for free!

Because I can’t afford to live on this salary.

Why is that? Are you living beyond your means or is your job making you spend money you’d rather keep for yourself (i.e. childcare, commute…)?

  • If you’re spending your wage as soon as it hits the bank on shopping, going out, etc, it’s your problem. Do you really think your boss is gonna give you a bonus just because you want to buy yourself a pair of Louboutins? Didn’t think so. Your options are either to find a job that fits your lifestyle or adapt your lifestyle to your earnings.
  • If the job keeps you late at work and increase your childcare costs, requires you to travel a lot to see clients, asks you to use your own mobile to make work calls… Unless it’s your own business, and therefore an investment, if the job costs you money, it’s not on! Figure out how much it’s costing you and make sure you get all of it back.

Ok, I am underpaid. Now, how do I ask?

First, do your research and be clear on how much you want; you’ll have to show that you know what you’re talking about and are not just asking for random amount. Remember that this is a negotiation so start higher and know your lower limit.

Then, prepare your argumentation. As I said earlier, your boss will have to justify why they’re spending more money on you so you need to give him/her something convincing to work with. “It’s not fair” and crocodile tears won’t get you anywhere. You need something powerful to back it up.

Think about the different scenarios. What will you do if they say “no”, “yes but not as much as you want”, “maybe next year”… Be clear about what could happen and what you will do in each scenario. You might decide to walk away, stay but make it clear that you’ll be looking or just be happy to stay as money it’s your priority. This is up to you.

Asking for a salary increase or negotiating an offer is stressful but if you are not happy with what you are paid there’s no harm in asking. Worst case, everything will be the same. Best case, you’ll get what you want.

Your salary is not how much your company thinks you’re worth but how much YOU think you’re worth. Your work is valuable so make sure it’s priced at the right level.

Good luck.

The Job Matchmaker



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