10 Neon Signs You’re Not Paid What You’re Worth

By MJ Plaster
“Money is just a scorecard.” That’s what people of vast wealth say. Far more view it as a means to buy day-to-day necessities while juggling meager amounts just to keep their heads above water. Your beliefs about money could be limiting your supply. Follow along as we look at 10 flashing red signs that you’re underpaid and explore ways to remedy the situation.

1. You’ve Never Asked for a Raise
Those who don’t ask, often don’t receive. Part of the game is salary negotiations, so let go of the reluctance to ask for a pay increase. The Washington Post reports, “Between 74 and 77 percent of people in all [age] groups got the pay they requested or a smaller raise after asking.” If the thought of asking for more money terrifies you, study the “Salary Negotiation Guide” at Payscale.com to build confidence.

Do your homework. Compile a list of your attributes and accomplishments. Note any metrics to back up your “growth” in the job. Practice in front of a mirror to ensure your body language is assertive, not fearful. Don’t raise the pitch of your voice at the end of a statement as if you were asking a question. Let your voice and demeanor project confidence.

2. Co-workers in Similar Jobs are Paid More
To earn what you’re worth, you must know your worth. Some basic research will divulge the range of your colleagues’ salaries. Start your search at Glassdoor. The site will help you discover what people in similar job classifications are earning. Be aware that pay scales vary depending on factors such as education, experience and location.

If you’re looking for a new job, consider that job titles matter. For example, the salary difference between project coordinator and project manager is significant. A project manager position can boost your salary by up to $10,000. If you can handle the additional responsibilities of the manager’s position, then you can take home more money.

3. You’ve Landed More Responsibility and an Impressive Title
You’ve received a new title with greater responsibility, but there’s no bump in salary. Unfortunately, those shiny new business cards won’t pay the rent. It’s time to ask for more money, update your resume or both.

4. You’ve Never Been Given More Responsibility
Whose fault is that? You can play defense, or you can play offense. The choice is yours. To change your position on the field, speak up at meetings and volunteer to take on more responsibility. Once you achieve a few successes, you’re ripe for a raise. Head into your boss’s office and ask for an increase equal to your new responsibilities.

5. You’re Thankful You Have a Job
Maybe you haven’t reached your threshold for pain, or perhaps you don’t think you’re capable of holding a higher-paying job. To express gratitude for what you have helps you to appreciate your many blessings, but it’s a mistake to use it as an excuse to keep you from advancing. If you change your mindset, you can change your life. Work on your self-worth and your self-confidence, and good things will begin to flow to you. Once you prove your worth to yourself, then you can you convince others of your value and increase your bottom line.

6. Your Raises Can’t Buy a Starbucks Latte
It’s a tight economy, but it’s been that way for at least a decade. While expenses have skyrocketed, many salaries have not kept pace with inflation. Just because other people are “falling behind” doesn’t mean you must follow suit. Some people are doing well, making more money—that’s the group you want to join. If you’ve been receiving token raises for as long as you can remember, it’s time to ask for a meaningful increase.

7. Advertised Openings for Comparable Jobs Pay More
When you see an advertised opening at your company with a starting salary greater than what you’re making, you’ve been left behind. Figure out what’s holding down your earnings. Do you need more education? Do you need to become more assertive? Or, are you being taken for granted?

8. Your Salary Is Below Industry Standards
If you think your salary falls below industry norms, check with Glassdoor to find out if your company is out of touch, or if you’re a statistic blip on the screen. Once you’re armed with information, you can devise a plan to increase your pay. If your company is paying most of its employees below market level, consider taking your talents to a company that appreciates quality and value—one that pays for it.

9. You Can’t Remember Your Last Raise
You’ve been with your company for years. At one time, you were receiving regular raises, but it’s been a few years since you’ve had one. Ask yourself a few questions before you decide what action to take: Has your company been in outsource or layoff mode? Have your co-workers received raises? Did your pay raises cease when you were assigned a new boss?

10. Ramen Noodles Are Your Go-To Dinner
You’re frugal to a fault and you pinch every penny, but “too much month at the end of the money” is still your default mode. You load up your cart with Ramen noodles—when they’re on sale. If this describes you, take immediate action if you want to live a healthy life long enough to make some real income. Nutritional deficiency could be the reason you’re underperforming at work.

When you buy the leading brand of noodles by the case at Wal-Mart for $24.63, the cost is $1 per package. For $20, you can buy a 30-serving canister of organic smoothie powder full of nutrients to fuel your mind and body for 66¢ per serving. Productivity and results are a key to raising your income, but it’s difficult to perform when your body is running on empty.

If you believe you’re underpaid, take the time to figure out the reason. Then, you can take corrective action or begin a job search. Occasionally, it’s an oversight—you simply fell through the cracks. You’ll never know until you ask.

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