It is understandable to feel disheartened or even insulted when you discover that your colleague earns more than you do. There could be more than one reason for the difference, and they may represent an opportunity to up-skill, re-evaluate your existing skills to negotiate a raise. Or of course to find a new job willing to pay you what you’re worth.
Skills and Demand
When did your colleague start at the company? Evolving markets and increased demand, could mean that they were able to command a higher salary. It is not uncommon for people hired after you to earn more.
You also need to find out if your colleague has more responsibilities even if the role appears to be the same.
Your colleague may have additional or more up-to-date qualifications. This, of course, gives some guidance on the skills you will need to master in order to ask for the same rate of pay.
Sometimes, however, the difference is simply that your colleague negotiated their salary – and you didn’t.
Negotiating a raise
If skills and responsibilities don’t seem to account for the difference, it might be time to consider negotiating a new rate of pay. The starting point is to find out what you are worth on the job market. There are plenty of online job and salary sites that should provide you with the information you are looking for.
Before you approach your boss, you might also want to make a list of your achievements on the job and prepare the answers to the questions your boss is most likely to ask. It helps to show that you understand the needs of the company and how your skills can continue to make a difference.
Career specialists advise that when you do ask, keep the focus on your performance and make your request in figures rather than percentages.
It’s not all about the money
Even if your request is declined, don’t be afraid to explore other benefits. Your boss might be willing to consider flexitime or the option to work from home. Rather than being deterred, find out what it would take to get an increase in pay and request a performance review after a few months.
It might be tempting to quit, especially if you don’t get anything you want, but experts say that you really need to decide what the job means to you – outside of the earning difference between you and your colleague.
If the money matters, however, and you have discovered that there are companies out there willing to pay you more, it just might be time to leave.
A case for legal action
There are instances where there is some kind of discrimination behind the difference in pay. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly because of age, gender, disability, race or religion, you may have the grounds for a lawsuit. The Equal Pay Act means that, once proven, you have a good chance of winning your case.
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