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By PayScale
September 2, 2016
office chair and desk made out of money.
Butch Martin—Getty Images

There is more to compensation than just baseline salary, but no matter how you look at it, your salary matters. And, if you’re being underpaid, it’s something that can really get under your skin, not to mention have a real impact on your life. When you’re feeling like you’re behind the market in the salary game, it can seem like you’ll never be able to catch up. But, that isn’t the case. If you’re underpaid, there are some things you can do to get your pay rate where it ought to be. Consider these suggestions.

  1. First, be sure you know what you should be earning.

In order to understand where you’d like to go, it’s important to fully grasp where you are right now. It might feel like your salary is behind where it ought to be, but you could be mistaken about that. You won’t know for sure until you do some research. Check out PayScale’s Salary Survey to understand what the average salary is for someone in your area with your experience, skills, and job title. Once you’ve armed yourself with this data, you are ready to proceed.

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  1. Don’t cling to any one career path just for the sake of clinging.

It might be to your advantage to give up on a career path that’s a straight line. The world is changing so quickly these days, our paths often shift right along with it. Your interests and passions may change over the course of a lifetime. Plus, the world has changed; there’s no longer one right way to “climb the corporate ladder.” For example, changing jobs often leads to a pay increase. So, don’t feel like you have to stay the course in order to get your pay where it ought to be. Doing just the opposite might actually benefit you more.

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  1. No matter what you do, you must negotiate.

Did you know that 75 percent of people who ask for a raise get one? PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide provides step-by-step guidance to help you get the most out of your next salary negotiation. If you’re really serious about doing something to boost your pay, you’re going to need to have this conversation. Feeling prepared should help you get the job done.

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  1. Look to the future, not the past.

Sometimes, employers try to factor in candidate’s prior salaries when determining what they should be paid going forward. If you’ve been underpaid, you’d like to avoid this. So, if at all possible, don’t offer this information to your prospective employer. Next, internalize the practice. Be sure not to think about your new salary in relation to your prior earnings. Instead, do your homework and know what your new job should pay. That’s the only number you really need to worry about.