Career Confession: I’m underpaid.

Dear world,

I am an underpaid employee. I don’t like it. I have to suck it up.


Poorest Meghan

Yep. I said it. I work way too hard for the teeny paycheck I receive every other week. I have to submit a daily timesheet detailing how many hours I spent working for each of my clients, so I know exactly how many hours I pump out without seeing any pennies in return.

The big kicker? It’s life. It sucks and it’s frustrating, but we have to pay our dues (no pun intended). What sucks even more is that I’m probably getting paid the average salary for someone my age and with my level of experience. As a 23-year-old first-jobber, I have learned to accept that I’ll probably always think I’m underpaid and I should be grateful that I have a job with a paycheck all together. Can I afford to go shopping every weekend? No. But I can afford to pay my own bills.

Over the past two years of working in the same office, I’ve seen four coworkers at my level come and go. Reasons for leaving included not liking the type of work, wanting to go back to school, etc., but they all claimed to not make enough money. While that may be true, leaving the job entirely seems to be a little bit of a cop-out to me.

If you really think you’re underpaid and deserve a salary increase, the first step in fixing the issue is talking to your employer about it – not running away. If you’re a problem runner, you’re just adding to the “entitled generation” population.  And you’re killin’ me, man!

Here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re in a good position to talk to your employer about a salary increase:

  1. Check the market. Glassdoor is a great way to find out what other people in your position are making at other companies. If your salary is not competitive in the market, that’s a big sign.
  2. Keep track of your time. If you don’t have to keep track of your time at work, start now. This will help you prove your worth when talking to your employer.
  3. Reflect on your work performance. Be sure that when you are counting those hours, you’re putting in 100 percent effort. Slacking off won’t go unnoticed and could be a cause for not getting that raise.
  4. Highlight your work. Just like in a review, be prepared to speak about all the successes you’ve had since you started at the company or received your last raise.
  5. Know your rights as an employee. It always pays to understand employment law. Not just in terms of compensation and benefits but also matters that are way beyond your control.

Hopefully your employer has already seen the great effort you put into the job every day and is working on increasing your salary, but we have to remember that they’re also trying to keep track of a lot of other employees. You have to be your biggest cheerleader, or you may slip through the cracks. If you truly deserve a salary increase, you shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for what you deserve.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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