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When a colleague makes more money than you do

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “I recently learned that our newest employee, whom I have been training for a year, makes $15,000 more than I do. A colleague, who accidentally saw a confidential list of salaries in our department, told me. During my 10 years with this company, I always thought that I was one of the most valuable employees. Now I feel betrayed and am not sure how to deal with it.” —  Unappreciated

Marie's Answer:
Because companies often pay whatever it takes to get and keep employees, salary inequities are not uncommon. Although you may have been treated unfairly, nursing hurt feelings won’t help to solve the problem. Instead, take steps to get paid what you’re worth: 

•    Prepare yourself to ask for a raise.  If you are a modest, humble type who hates discussing money, then you must become more assertive. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so you need to start squeaking. 

•    Research typical salaries for your type of work. Contact your professional association, network with people in similar jobs, or consult salary comparison web sites. Be sure to consider your length of service and geographic location.

•    Put together a strong, factual case to support your request.  Include your responsibilities, the results you produce and the value of your long experience. For more Office Coach tips on requesting a pay increase, see How to Ask for a Raise.

When approaching your boss, don’t rant and rave about unfair pay practices. If it seems helpful, you might calmly mention the newcomer’s salary, but remember that you haven’t actually seen this confidential data yourself. 

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