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February 23, 2018
What to Do When a Co-Worker Earns More Than You

Found out that a co-worker earns more than you? You’re not alone. Compensation in the workplace is rarely completely equal. You may have found out they earn more than you in various ways. Perhaps you decided to have an honest conversation with them about wage. Or you may find out at a networking event or a company party where people are talking socially. Regardless of how you uncovered this issue, it can make an already awkward topic more uncomfortable. So how should you proceed?


Manage your immediate reaction. Try not to feel immediately jealous, frustrated, or wronged by the organization you work for. Resist the urge to get angry at your coworker, after all, they do not know they are making more than you and they may have simply asked for a higher salary when you didn’t. Ask yourself the following:

  • Has your coworker worked for the company longer than you have?

  • Do they have a special skill set you don’t possess?

  • Have you recently received a raise?

  • Do you have certain benefits that make up for a lower salary number?


Talk to your boss. If you feel that after analyzing the situation that you are receiving an unfair wage, don’t wait until your next performance review. Schedule a meeting with your boss, giving them the heads up that you would like to discuss your wage so they aren’t caught off guard. While you may feel that it’s necessary to let them know that you have become aware of your coworker’s wage, avoid comparing yourself to them or making accusations. Keep the discussion positive and explain why you feel you deserve a raise based on your performance. You can use the following tools to ask for the raise:

  • A presentation showing specific tasks and results you have achieved.

  • An updated portfolio of your latest STAR stories.

  • How much you save/make for the company based on your performance.


The more specific you can be about your performance, the better. If your boss seems hesitant about giving you a raise, ask them if there are certain skills you need to learn or something you need to do differently. Avoid making threats of quitting your job unless you are willing to follow through with them.


Don’t take it out on your coworkers. Your coworkers are not to blame for your lower salary, so don’t make them feel guilty or allow your relationship with them to sour over this issue. If you don’t work as a team or slide on your performance, that will only exacerbate the issue. Keep your head up, apply the suggestions your boss provided you with, and track your performance in writing for the next performance review.


If after a reasonable amount of time, you find that the situation is unable to be resolved and you are unhappy with your position, salary and benefits, it may be time to start looking for a job elsewhere.


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Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.* http://www.HallieCrawford.com
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