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How to Find Out If You are Making a Fair Salary

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By: Erin Davis
Oct 14, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Find Out If You are Making a Fair Salary

Money is always a touchy subject. People often refrain from discussing how much they are making, and it can be difficult to compare positions across a company. Simultaneously, it can also make it difficult to determine how much money you should be making. Everyone has different experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. One position can not have a flat rate salary for this reason. Not to mention the salary changes between locations due to the price of living. An employee in Texas will make a different salary than someone in NYC, even if their experience seems similar. This sparks the question: How do you know if you are making a fair salary? Keep reading to find out. 

making a fair salary

Online Data

The first step to researching and answering what salary you should be making is to look at online data. Various sources have anonymous information given from current and past employees of companies. Glassdoor is an ideal example of this. For most companies, Glassdoor has reviews on how the company operates if it is a quality job and average salaries for different positions at that company. This can even be used to help negotiate salary before being hired for a job. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics also has an online database with the annual mean wage for over 800 occupations. Although this tends to be less accurate, it can certainly give you a baseline idea of how much you should be making. 

Reach out to Colleagues 

From there, you can begin to use your network to gain more information. This can be difficult, but people may be more understanding and willing to discuss their salary if you explain the situation. Close colleagues are an ideal starting point to discuss the topic. The friendship will help the conversation come naturally, and you can trust their responses. It is critical to base your questions from a concerned standpoint on your own salary. Also, be sure to compare to people with a similar level of experience to you. If you ask your friend who has been at the company for fifteen years, chances are they are not a fair comparison. 

making a fair salary

Compare With Your Network

You can also reach out to your general network to help with the comparison. If someone at a similar company that you have a solid relationship with happens to have a similar job, maybe it would be worth bringing up the concern at lunch. Friends and family can often help to provide reliable information that is more specific to your case. They can also provide input about your salary. They might add an extra opinion on if it seems fair in your specific scenario based on their personal knowledge. This aspect can be beneficial even if the person does not have your specific role or work at a similar company.

Have You Moved to the Company in the Last 5 Years?

Think about your personal progress with the company. What seems to be your strengths and weaknesses? What kind of feedback has been given from managers recently? Have you moved to the company in the past five years? These aspects can help predict if it is time for a raise and if you are making a proper salary. A change in position usually means a change in pay, so that is a key element. If the past reviews from managers have gone well with little to no feedback, then it would be correct to assume you should be making a similar salary to those in similar positions to you. If you were recently joining a company, think about if you negotiated for your salary when you were hired. Negotiation may mean that it will take longer to get a raise, and you based your salary off of your previous position. In this case, it is probably true that you are making the correct salary.

making a fair salary

Does the Salary Keep Up with Inflation?

Another aspect to remember is inflation. Research the inflation rates in the time frame since you received your last change in pay. The rate of inflation should match the growth of the salary. Sometimes companies will delay this adjustment, but it is a key factor in a salary. Specifically, in areas that are expensive to live in, it could be fairly obvious that rent, utilities, groceries, and more are getting more expensive. If this is the case, the salary should also be rasing to match this increased cost of living. This is most likely attributed to inflation. This research is also easy to find, even though sometimes this increase in prices is almost unnoticeable. Inflation is consistent, but if you haven’t had your salary changed within the past few years, this could be the explanation. Every year the inflation rate changes, but a few percentages can make a difference.

Ask Management

Lastly, the most efficient and reliable way to ensure you are making the correct salary is to ask management. A discussion during a review is an ideal time to bring up the topic or schedule another meeting to go over your personal research. The objective numbers from online sources are the most professional way to begin this conversation. Be sure to take a concerted approach to this conversation instead of insisting that you are being underpaid or ripped off. Again, this is a touchy subject, so it needs to be handled lightly. Going through the research compared to your strengths, weaknesses, growth, and responsibilities is a healthy conversation to have to ensure the appropriate salary.

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