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Are You Underpaid?

Are You Underpaid?

Make sure you're getting paid what you deserve!

Kim Lankford | Monster Contributing Writer

Talk with Your Predecessor

It may be awkward, but try to talk with the person you’re replacing. Even if he isn’t willing to reveal his salary, you may still get some good insight into how fairly he thought he was being paid, especially if he just completed a job search and switched to another employer.

“You always ask to talk with your predecessor, whether or not they are still with the company,” says Emory Mulling, chairman of outplacement and executive coaching firm The Mulling Corp. “If the company doesn’t want to give out the name of the predecessor, that’s a message.”

Recall Your Hiring Circumstances

Did you accept the first offer? That could be a red flag. “Rarely will recruiters make their best offer as their first offer,” Miller says. “They expect job candidates to negotiate.” And remember: You can negotiate salary, benefits, a signing bonus, equity or a flexible schedule.

Network through your professional association, and talk with people who work or worked with the company to find out which strategy likely will be most successful — some companies are known for higher-than-average pay, while others may not have extra cash but will negotiate on flexibility.

Miller also recommends asking about training, which tends to be important long-term. “That increases your value in the future,” he says.

Is Pay Really the Issue?

Finally, step back and examine why you feel you’re underpaid. Sometimes the issue goes beyond money. “One of the reasons some people feel like they’re underpaid is if there’s too much personal cost to what you’re doing,” says Karen Wright, president of Parachute Executive Coaching. “If you’re doing the completely wrong thing, no matter how much you’re being paid, it’s never truly going to be enough.”

Wright recommends thinking about what will make you happier. It may be more money, but it may also be a shorter commute, flexible hours, a less-stressful company or a different boss. It helps to know you’re being paid fairly, but you’ll be a lot less worried and resentful if you actually like your job.

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