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The Salary Wizard says I'm underpaid - what can I do?

If you do your salary research after your negotiation is over, you'll have to wait until the next negotiation opportunity to ask for the amount your research says is fair.

Q. I'm a mailroom clerk for a publishing company and make $17,889 a year before taxes. I logged on to to see if I'm making the right amount of money, and I was shocked to see that I am underpaid by at least $4,257. But when I first interviewed with the company, I requested $16,000 in my cover letter and received $17,889, not knowing how much I really should be making. How should I approach my boss about this situation - because it's not fair.

A. You had asked for the company to offer you a salary of $16,000, yet they gave you $17,889, nearly $2,000 more. Your company clearly has a minimum rate it is willing to offer for this job, a rate higher than your initial salary expectations. I wouldn't characterize their offer as unfair, since you disclosed a salary figure first.

Now, your expectations have changed based on new information. But you have already accepted the job at this rate. So what can you do to increase your salary, given what you know today?

You may be able to get an increase based on the information you found in the Salary Wizard. Ask the human resources department when your job was last evaluated (that is, when the company's compensation team last determined the job's market value) and whether there is a process for evaluating the job in the future. This is a bit of a long shot, though, since you have already agreed to the salary you are earning now.

Your best bet may be to ask the company what other career opportunities they have that would enable you to make more. And if they show you a list of openings, whatever you do, don't be the first to say a number.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

Copyright 2000-2004 ©, Inc.

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