5 Signs You're Underpaid and What to Do About It

5 Signs You’re Underpaid and What to Do About It


Irrespective of whether you have been at one company for the longest time or recently joined a new company, you may be drawn to thinking, “am I underpaid?” for one reason or another. Maybe it was something you overheard, something you noticed, or simply a hunch that triggered this question. In any case, it’s a question that demands serious attention, especially as it can often hold the keys to whether you are a victim of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or other unalterable aspects of your personality. It can also give you a sense of how valued you are at your current company and help you make a decision as to whether you should stay on or look for greener pastures.

5 Clear Signs You’re Underpaid

How exactly can you figure out that you’re underpaid? There is no exact science to it, but there are some telltale signs that can alert you to the possibility. In this article, you will learn what those signs are and some tips for how to remedy the situation.

1.  Your Salary Is Less Than the Average Salary for Similar Positions Elsewhere

If you find that people are paid more, perhaps significantly more, for similar positions at other similar companies, it is the clearest sign that you are underpaid in your current role and your current company.

How can you come across this information? Some of the most readily accessible sources are job sites and salary range data from private as well as government sources.

You can simply search for roles similar to yours and see what a good yearly salary for someone with your skills, qualifications, and experience are according to other companies and the average salary data. If your salary is significantly lower than the numbers you find, you’re very likely being underpaid.

2.  Your Salary Is Less Than the Salary for Similar Positions at Your Company

Let alone other companies; you may be underpaid compared to people in similar positions within your company. For instance, if you are a woman, you could be paid much less than your male counterparts for the same role/job. This is also known as the gender pay gap, one of the big societal challenges of the day.

While getting to know what your colleagues get paid is quite difficult as few are willing to volunteer this information, you may be able to get this information from those who trust you. Or you may accidentally come across this information one way or another.

However you get this information, if you notice that someone is getting paid more for the same job, that means you’re being underpaid, and it’s time to do something about it.

3.  Your Salary Hasn’t Increased Despite an Increase in Responsibilities

While being engaged at a particular organization, you may be given a completely different role to the one you initially signed up for, or you may be given additional responsibilities. In such cases, it’s only fair that your salary and benefits are reviewed/revised.

If there is no increase in your salary when you have been given a bigger role or more responsibilities, chances are that you may be underpaid. So look at the average salary data for the new role online and try to figure out whether that’s the case or not.

4.  Another Company Is Willing to Pay You Significantly More for a Similar Role

Suppose you have been offered a significantly higher salary and benefits package for more or less the same role at another company. In that case, you can be reasonably sure that you’re being underpaid at your current company.

The fact that someone else is willing to pay you more for the job you already do may indicate that your current employers are not adequately valuing your skills, experience, and expertise.

5.  You Go Above and Beyond in the Call of Duty but Are Not Compensated for It

If you’re a self-starter and an intrinsically driven individual, you may be prone to going the extra mile in the pursuit of your professional duties and goals. But this may often go unnoticed by your employers.

Suppose your employers fail to take into account your dedication and your exceptionalism during, say, performance reviews and give you appropriate raises. In that case, you may very well be underpaid, especially if you’ve been with the company for a while.

3 Steps You Can Take to Remedy the Situation

Once you’ve figured out that you’re underpaid, what can you really do? Well, there are many sensible and professional steps that you can take to fix the problem.

1.  Talk to the Colleagues Closest to You

Instead of directly approaching or confronting your bosses, you should try to discuss the issue with your closest and most trusted colleagues. Maybe some of them have been through the same thing and can give you valuable advice regarding how to deal with this situation.

Conversely, if some of your impressions about being underpaid are based on inaccurate data, they can help dispel your misconceptions.

2.  Renegotiate Your Salary

Once you’ve become entirely sure that you’re being underpaid and have consulted close co-workers as to the best approach, you can move forward with renegotiating your salary with your bosses.

For the best chance of success, your approach should be data-driven. You should provide evidence regarding your performance, the market conditions, and other relevant data to make your point. You may even consider improving your communication skills before doing this because you’ll need to make your case firmly but delicately.

3.  Look for Opportunities Elsewhere

Another thing you should immediately start once you realize that you’re being underpaid is to look for opportunities at other companies. A highly lucrative offer from another company may compel your employers to take an additional step or two to retain you. This can act as a fallback option if your renegotiation efforts fail. In many cases, it can even help you during your renegotiations.


While it’s not a pleasant realization that you’re being underpaid, there are clear signs that often point in that direction. But fret not; you’re not entirely helpless if it turns out that you deserve way more than what you’re raking in at the moment.

You can talk to your co-workers, negotiate with your current employers, or calmly and quietly hunt for better opportunities elsewhere.

Ultimately, things will turn out in your favor; you just need patience and perseverance.