5 Signs You’re Underpaid
So you have a nagging feeling you’re underpaid.
Maybe you overheard some gossip in the staff room about how much one of your colleagues is earning. Or perhaps you’ve just never been good at negotiating and you’re pretty sure you’ve been shortchanging yourself.
Here are some rock solid signs your fears could be well-founded. The presence of any one of these warrants some further research into how your salary compares to market rates:
1. YOU STARTED OUT ON A LOW SALARY
A low starting salary – whether in your first job ever, or just in your first role at your current company – can follow you around like a bad smell for years. As you progress through your career, that low salary becomes your starting point for each subsequent pay negotiation, making it difficult for you to catch up without a concerted effort.
2. YOU’VE BEEN AT ONE COMPANY FOREVER
Once you join a company, any annual raises you receive will most likely be a percentage of your salary. Often there will be quite rigid limits to what percentage your manager can offer you. In New Zealand, it’s common practice to give an increase that’s equivalent to inflation, with maybe an extra percentage or two thrown in for high performers.
This means that if you’ve been significantly adding to your skill set and responsibilities, but you’ve only been receiving 1-5% annual pay rises, there’s a good chance your pay has fallen behind the market.
3. YOU’RE A WOMAN IN A SENIOR POSITION
While the overall gender pay gap is significant in New Zealand, with women earning on average just 86c for every dollar men earn, much of that gap can be accounted for by the fact that women are under-represented in more senior roles. For lower- and intermediate-level roles, there’s often no gap at all, or a fairly small one.
For example, data from the peer-to-peer salary comparison tool What’s My Worth show that across New Zealand, female full-time Financial Accountants earn on average only 2% less than their male counterparts. But by the time they reach Finance Manager level, women working the same number of hours are earning on average 9% less than men – or $9,354 per annum.
4. YOU TOOK A STEP BACKWARDS OR SIDEWAYS AT SOME POINT
If you’ve ever made a career decision that meant you had to compromise on salary (for example you changed industries, negotiated flexible hours, or moved countries), there’s a strong chance your salary is still below market rates – even if your circumstances have now changed.
5. YOUR COMPANY HAS A HIGH STAFF TURNOVER
There are many possible reasons for a high staff turnover, but if it’s not immediately obvious to you why people are leaving in droves (i.e. the culture and management are fine), then there’s a good chance it’s happening because they’re underpaid compared to the market and they’re being lured away by bigger pay packets.
If you’ve ticked any of these boxes, it doesn’t mean for certain you’re underpaid. The only sure way to find out for sure is to do a little research. If you’re in accounting and finance, hop on over to whatsmyworth.co.nz and enter your details. You’ll be given a detailed breakdown of how your salary and benefits compare to your peers.
And if you do find you’re underpaid? The only person who can fix that is you.
Watch this space to find out how to successfully negotiate the salary you deserve (if you’re not already a subscriber, enter your email below to make sure you don’t miss it).