How would you feel if you found out that another employee who performs the same type of work as you makes ten thousand dollars more per year. How would you react to that? Would you feel hurt or betrayed by the company? Would you storm into your boss's office and vent your frustration about how the company isn't fair and how it's taking advantage of you? Or like many people, would you quietly suffer in silence and build up a huge resentment that colors your entire attitude at work?
I think there's another way to look at it. You could consider it a very valuable piece of information that you're glad you discovered. The mentality that allows you to view it that way is because you don't expect life to be fair, especially in the workplace.
Once you've gotten past the "fairness" aspect, why should this be considered valuable information? Why on earth should you be glad you discovered it? In answer to that, let's consider the opposite situation for a moment. Let's assume you discover that you're the highest paid person in your position at work. How much room for salary advancement is left for you? When they need to make layoffs at your level, whose salary sticks out like a sore thumb? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you shouldn't go for more money when you get the chance. I'm just saying that you need to consider the up side and the down side of everything.
The reason this is valuable information is because you might have just discovered that you're making less money than your market value. The appropriate course of action is to do some external investigation into the job market to see what type of salary you could command if you moved to another company. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that you could get a substantial salary increase just by taking another job.
At this point, instead of going out and securing a job making a lot more money, you might be thinking that what would make more sense is if you went and discussed the situation with your current manager. You're thinking he or she might be able to offer you something close to your market value so you wouldn't have to leave the company. That would make sense, wouldn't it? You wouldn't have to go through the pain and trouble of having to find another job and they wouldn't lose an experienced, valuable employee. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it doesn't usually work that way.
Never forget that the company philosophy is to employ you for the least amount of money they think they can get away with. It increases their profit margin, plain and simple. Also, remember that once a company hires you in at a particular salary, the rate of increase is governed by that.
In this case, consider that you're making fifty thousand a year and you discover your coworker is making sixty thousand. That's a twenty percent increase. What do you think the chances are that you'll get a twenty percent increase from the company? When was the last time you received or heard of someone else receiving a twenty percent raise?
Unfortunately, in most cases, the only way you could potentially get that type of increase is if you get another job offer and tender your resignation. At that point, if you're considered valuable, they may offer to match the salary, but at that point, should you accept? It could be risky. Employers have a way of remembering who's "loyal" and who isn't.
John L. White is the author of My Job Sucks and I Can't Take it Anymore! (The Real-Life Job Survival Guide) and founder of Everlove and Bohannon Publishing. He also works full-time as an IT professional for a large International Company. To purchase "My Job," visit amazon.com or call 813-907-2511.
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