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When You Find Out A Collaegue's Salary Is Higher

It's Career-Wednesday! Been a while, yeah? I know. A lot has happened in my workplace and with me on the job that I haven't been able to wrap my head around yet. It's been awesome and crazy altogether. But trust me to share the gist (struggles, lessons and blessings) with you when I get a direction.

Let's talk about salary today. Lol.

Negotiate Your Salary

You know that moment when a friend tells you that the same pair of shoes they got for N4,500, you got for N8,000? That was how I felt when I found out that a colleague whose job description is same as mine earned higher. I was angry. I felt cheated. Ouch. It still hurts. :(

Whether we’re starting a new job or gunning for a promotion at our current one, we all know that we should be negotiating. Right?

I didn't know.

I wish somebody taught me the art of negotiation before I went for the interview that got me this awesome job. Let me tell you how my interview on the review of my salary went:

HR: I need to know what you were earning at your last job.
Me: Hmm . . . it wasn't as much as I wanted. (how stupid I was. Smh.)

HR: I need to know whether you've been fairly paid by the previous company.

Me: OK. I was paid xxxxx for the first six months, then got a raise to xyxyxy thereafter.
HR: Well, we determine how good you are at what you do with what you've been paid thus far in your career.
Me: Really? If that's the case, I can't have anything below xyxyxy
HR: Sure. We'll be considerate to give you xxyxyz
Me: Fantastic.
HR: Thank you. We look forward to having you.
Why wouldn't they look forward to having me when I had agreed to "sell" my time for "change". Mtchew! I love the job sha. 
Sometimes employers say "I need your salary history because our clientele base demands that information." or, "We need to confirm that you were paid well enough." Lies. Lies. Lies.

Negotiate higher!

If I knew what I know now, my interview would have gone like this:

HR: I need to know what you were earning at your last job.
Me: Why do you need that information?

HR: I need to know whether you've been fairly paid by the previous company

Me: I'm not sure I want that service from you. I only need you to place me with one of your employees.
HR: Well, I can't determine how good you are at what you do unless I know what you've been paid thus far in your career.
Me: So you want to match my qualifications with my salary level. Huh?
HR: Exactly!
Me: Fantastic. That should be simple. Please ask me all the questions you want about my qualifications and my experience, and then tell me what you think I should be paid.
HR: Er . . .
Me: I already know what the job is worth. This is what I want . . . 
I could have won the battle. I could have stood my ground on what I wanted. But I only got what I negotiated. 

Are You Underpaid?

There are three things you can do in this situation – accept it, change it, or leave it.

If you are willing to accept it, you do not need to complain or confront anybody - you take it as destiny. Sorry.

If you are willing to change it, then you might be looking for a way to re-negotiate with your employer or find somewhere else.

If you are willing to leave it the way it is, well then, you let the matter die a natural death. That's all.

If you are after more money, the obvious first step is to schedule a meeting with your employer and ask for a raise.

I didn't ask my boss for an increment, because financially I knew the company was struggling to break even. It was hard to even bring the topic up when I heard my boss complain daily of not having enough money or when I heard that certain executives only received half of a paycheck to make sure we all got paid. (And considering how I try to Make My Boss Love Me, it wouldn't be a good time).

Maybe you discovered that your colleagues with the same job earns more than you; and passed out from shock when you saw the range for your job title, experience, and skills. However you found out that you’re underpaid, the next question is: what do you do now?

Obviously, there are a few things you absolutely shouldn’t do, such as forcing a confrontation with your boss while you’re still angry at yourself. Whatever strategy you adopt next, it’s essential to be calm, cool, and collected—and informed—before you make your move.

First thing, Get Your Facts Right

Sure, your colleagues say they’re making more money, but you shouldn’t take their word for it. Find out more.

There’s this issue of context: you might know for a fact that Christy in the next cubicle is making more money, but you don’t necessarily know everything about her skills and experience. What if there is something "extra" about her? She could have a certification you lack, or have a prior job that adds something to her current role.
Yes, another thing that held me from talking to my boss about my salary was because I was new in the industry. I no too get mouth like that. :(
Forget about what you heard, and don’t jump to conclusions based on partial information. Get the actual data on what you should be earning for your job and skillset. And strive to become better!

I don't know the second thing, the third, the fourth, . . . the tenth thing to do. (Please share in the comment box if you do. Thanks!) But I know the last thing:

Last thing, Start Looking For Your Next Opportunity

You have learnt something. You have sense now. You are wiser. When you start going for interviews for your next job, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate because you’ll know how much you’re worth on the job market. 

Nobody can use you for play anymore. 😅

Advice For My Future Self And Anyone Going For An Interview Soon

Negotiate VERY WELL at the interview process before you accept the job. During your interview: they expect you to negotiate. If you don’t, they'll lose respect for you.

Everything is negotiable. Everything — from salary to bonus to perks to vacation time to office size to lunchbreaks and more. You should always ask for something that is way MORE THAN WHAT YOU WANT.

Many times, and I have painfully seen this myself, they will give you what you want without even blinking because their perception of your value is different than your own and usually higher when you sell yourself higher in the interview. Even if they don’t give you the ridiculous things you ask for, such as an in-office masseuse, they might compromise with something that is still more than you expected. It’s often difficult for companies to increase your salary after you have signed your employment letter. 

I hope you learn from my experience!

Word brewing in my heart:

"I seek faithfulness in your work place, give me a reason to bless the work of your hands. No matter the circumstance, have an attitude of excellence and work towards giving your best." 
~ God

Have you had an (un)successful salary negotiation experience with an employer? What did you do when you  found out your colleague earn more than you do? Let us know!

Written by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
Let's connect on Twitter: @Amakamedia
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Heart Rays . . . giving light.

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