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…Waiting for her print job, Tabitha reached for the white page as it hummed out. Turns out, it wasn’t hers. It belonged to her boss. Also turns out the team’s new hire was making 20% more than Tabitha, who had the same job, only longer. In fact, this person reported to Tabitha. Tabitha shouldn’t have been trailing a new hire’s salary by one penny, much less 20%.

Her Boss knew this and she knew he knew it. What the hell?

On her way back to her desk, Tabitha stopped by her bosses office, he was meeting with someone, so she placed the paper face down on his desk and said, “This was on the printer. I think it’s yours,” and left. That serendipitous event opened the door to Tabitha’s salary increase and one she deserved, but few get such a lucky break in a tidy, done-for-you package. When it comes money at work, here are some numbers:

46% of workers believe they're underpaid. 47% think they receive fair pay while 7% feel overpaid**

Half of the work force underpaid is a lot. A few things alchemize to make this mess.

If you’re underpaid, chances are, you're not talking about it, making it less likely you'll get information to get it corrected. And like Tabitha, you may not even know. Suspicions are vapor and offer little leverage.


Remember: Tabitha’s boss didn’t do anything about her salary when he knew she was underpaid…

He took action when she knew. Don’t wait for someone to “notice.” They know. And for the record, men are underpaid too. Almost as much as women. If you hear: “Now’s not the right time.” “We aren’t making salary adjustments now.” “Budgets are frozen.” Blah blah blah. That’s a: “No.”

Unless they’re going to make your future pay increase retroactive to the date you requested it and they “Couldn’t make it happen,” you’re spinning.


If you were overpaid by 20%, do you think they’d wait before fixing it?

Are you thinking..."but Courtney, that's not the same thing!" Think again, it's exactly the same thing.

Another amplifying reality: you’re underpaid in dog years.

When it comes to a too low salary, the situation worsens exponentially. There's a huge psychological element working against you every second you’re underpaid: normalization. Every second you allow it to continue, “there must be a reason” sets in and gets harder to change.

The good news:

There are three people responsible when it comes to your salary: You, You and … You. You have complete power to fix it. Is the secret solution to underpayment in an email? Nope. Will you get actionable ways to begin positioning out of underpayment now and forever? Yep.


First, check for two hidden beliefs that quietly, yet effectively make you vulnerable to the underpayment trap.

#1 You believe if an employer can’t afford your salary, you’re too expensive. Nope. Fact: some people can't afford you. (Read that again, please.) #2 You believe if your employer won’t pay your ask, no one else will either. Also not true. In Q4 2020, I worked with three “rock stars.” All underpaid. The first moved to a new job and with a 40% base salary increase plus a basket load of sweet benefits. The second secured a 20% pay increase from her employer. The final negotiated a sky-high contracting rate and entertains a steady stream of full-time and contract offers. The income increase for those three clients was over $100k. In each case, we strategized for less than two hours. Tiny, vital pieces of information make the difference. Once you have them, you’re on your way. If you're underpaid or uncertain about how to get your market salary, don’t wait to fix it. Courtney


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