Underpaid? Here’s How to Fix It.

by Nora Dunn on 9 November 2010 13 comments
Photo: skynesher

Are you underpaid? If yes, are you prepared to do something about it? The folks at GetRaised.com are willing to bet $20 that you’ll have your raise inside of six months with their help.

Find Out Where You Are on the Pay Scale

By simply inputting your career, location, and income data, GetRaised will tell you if you may be underpaid or not. Their sophisticated salary engine derives this conclusion from amalgamated government data, user data, and current job postings. In putting together this research, GetRaised noted that a huge majority of employees are actually underpaid. Some know it and aren’t sure how to ask for a raise, while others wrestle with issues of whether they deserve a raise or not.

GetRaised solves both of these problems by telling you if you are indeed underpaid, and then giving you the tools to successfully get a raise.

There Are Good Reasons to Ask for a Raise

The majority of the team behind GetRaised started off at Thrive, an online financial planning service. “When our data scientists were looking at the Thrive data, we noticed that women were actually better savers than men in that they were saving a higher percentage of their income, but because their income was so much lower, they were actually saving less money in total,” says Matt Wallaert, Lead Scientist at GetRaised.com.

And concerns about the increasing gender-wage gap extend to everybody — male, female, overpaid, and underpaid.“When people feel underpaid and undervalued, they aren’t good, productive workers. They still go to work, but they go feeling miserable, and they make other people miserable,” says Matt. And this contagious attitude can create some pretty miserable workplaces.

How GetRaised Works

Step One

Input your career and location data for free on the GetRaised website to discover if you are underpaid. If you are, move on to step two. (If not, pat yourself on the back for having an awesome employer.)

Step Two

Sign up to “Get Raised” for $20. They’ll ask you a few more questions about your goals, employer, job, and circumstances. From this you’ll receive a custom “Raise Request,” which is a letter for your boss that logically outlines your case for getting a raise and requests a meeting to discuss it.

Step Three

You’ll receive a Raise Guide, which walks you through the process of getting a raise and gives you tips for making your request successful. In addition to the guide, you’ll also gain access to your own Process Page, an online tool that keeps you on track to getting that raise, complete with checkpoints, reminders, and task lists.

If you follow the process above and don’t get a raise in six months, then your $20 is refunded from GetRaised. And since most raises are considerably more than $20, this appears to be a bet you can’t lose.

Customer Support and Success Rate

Knowing this basic information about GetRaised, I had a few more questions about usability of — and rationality behind — the program. For example, I was concerned about customer service and their true dedication to helping people get the raises they deserve. Can a computer program alone really determine if you're underpaid and help you get a raise?

“While the site is designed to be self-contained and to have everything you need, customer support is something that is important to us: If you get stuck or have a special situation, you can always ask us and we’ll try to help, usually within a few hours,” says Avi Karnani, Lead Strategest at GetRaised.com. And it’s not some underpaid (ha ha) pencil-pusher helping you either; even founding members of the team have been known to hop on the phone to help customers with their raise strategies.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

What is the success rate of Get Raised customers so far? “GetRaised went live in early October, so it's still pretty early,” says Matt. “There isn't a lot of time for people to have generated a raise request, to have turned it in, to have had their meeting, and to have received their raise. That said, of the people who have gone through the process so far, all but one has received a raise, and that young gent is working for a startup that simply couldn't afford an increase: They instead gave him increased equity (which is the currency they have).”

Debbie (who asked that her last name be withheld) had an inkling that she was underpaid when she checked out GetRaised. And after going through the GetRaised process, she got her raise. “The most helpful aspect of GetRaised for me was that the process guided my focus to what matters: Achievements, responsibilities and such. It's easy to get lost in details when trying to examine the job in which you're immersed on a day-to-day basis. GetRaised cleared the fog and helped me clearly identify what I needed to say to make my point.”

And try as I did to find a disgruntled GetRaised customer, I couldn’t. As Debbie says, GetRaised is “good value and a win/win situation. You'll either get your raise, or your money is refunded.”

Plus, financial assistance is available. “We built GetRaised as much for waitresses as physicists,” says Matt. So if you can’t afford the $20 package, then you can apply for sponsorship. GetRaised will find an individual or organization willing to pay $10, and GetRaised will cover the rest.

Tips for Getting a Raise

Here are a few of the tips for successfully getting a raise that GetRaised walks you through:

It’s Not All About You

Refrain from telling your boss that you “want” or “deserve” a raise. They care surprisingly little about what you want, and much more about how you add value to the business.

Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

Note dates of tenure, certifications, training programs, awards, or initiatives you spearheaded that resulted in new business. This is great fodder for creating your case as a raise-worthy employee.

Know Your Company’s Budget Calendar

Asking for a raise just after the annual budgets have been submitted won’t be very successful if there isn’t money in that budget for you.

Go Above and Beyond

“Raises really are earned more than given,” says Avi. Although this is true, don’t go and give up all your vacation time in an attempt to become the model employee. I believe that even when you’re gunning for a raise, a balanced approach to work — and life — speaks volumes.

Know What Else to Ask for If Money Isn’t Available

There are lots of tax-free employee perks you can ask for if a monetary raise isn’t in the cards. GetRaised’s Raise Guide identifies these alternative options and helps you to pursue them.

Right now, the only thing disheartening limitation I see with the GetRaised program is that only US residents can take advantage of it. Then again, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Are you underpaid? Go to GetRaised.com to find out. You’ve got nothing to lose, and possibly a higher paycheck to gain.

Writer's note: I have no affiliate or vested interest in GetRaised.

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Guest's picture
Guest

I thiNk get raised is not using experience correctly. It indicated I'm underpaid, but trade surveys I have read indicate drastically otherwise. If I were 5 or 10 years older, I would be underpaid.

Nora Dunn's picture

@Guest - I'm curious why you feel that your age (as opposed to experience, tenure, or education) plays a part in how much you feel your salary should be. Maybe it's implied when you say age - my apologies if that was your intent.

And nothing is infallible in terms of databases, especially if you work in a niche industry or or very specialized field. Sorry you didn't find the tool useful.

Guest's picture

Guest, sorry to hear that the data doesn't seem quite right for you - it can certainly vary by industry and there are always exceptions to the database. If you want to shoot me a note over at matt@getraised.com, I'd be happy to look through your data with you and see if we can't get you a more accurate understanding of how your salary compares.

Guest's picture
Guest

You're right, I did equate age to experience, but I meant that as we get older (and continue to work) we gain experience. I'll be more clear next time.

Thanks for the offer to review my data, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm pleased with my current compensation.

Guest's picture

Glad that you're please with your current pay - studies suggest that well-paid workers are generally happier and higher-performing, so we're always happy when people are satisfied with their pay.

And your comment about age and experience is well-taken; we'll keep working to make the data better and better.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Seems like a lot of hoops to jump through for data you can get for free at Payscale and Salary.com. And the "Raise Request" is kind of a silly gimmick...who would hand out a form letter like that to their boss?

Guest's picture

Carlos, did you even try the tool? First, Payscale and Salary.com have different datasets. Second, it is absolutely free to do the salary checking portion, as noted in the article. Third, did you generate a Raise Request or are you just talking hypothetically about a product you haven't actually seen?

Nora Dunn's picture

@Carlos - It seems to me that Payscale.com and Salary.com aren't as focused on tips and techniques to specifically get you a raise; they seem to be more evaluative tools to see how your pay compares in the industry, plus various career planning tools. All of it is useful, but not quite the same - or focused - as GetRaised.com.

As for the letter, I haven't seen one so I can't attest to it. But I'll bet it is structured to bring the right issues forward to your boss in a clear concise format that you can customize as needed to make it personal. If the thought of asking for a raise makes you feel nauseous, then this system could well provide the guidance and focus to get the ball rolling.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

My fault on assuming I needed to pay $20 to get the salary information. I went back and saw that it's not necessary. The homepage wasn't clear to me and that's what it looked like at first glance.

But I still go back to the gimmick of this salary request document: it's silly. There is so much information out there on how to use these kinds of sites to make a case for a salary increase, that a $20 form letter is silly. If it was human made and came with personalized consulting...well then that's something else entirely.

The form just basically has to say "According to this data, I'm underpaid. Why is that and what can be done to remedy it?"

Sorry to harp on this but I'm a big believer in using this data but the $20 form is throwing me for a loop!

Guest's picture

On the contrary, as Nora points out in her article, it says rather a lot more than "Gee, why am I underpaid?" The whole point of GetRaised is to help you construct an argument about why your compensation should be raised. It includes comparable job listings in your area that you could get that are paid more, a discussion of what you've done recently at the company, what you have planned going forward, and even a discussion of how, if a raise isn't appropriate right now, you'd like to know what you can do to earn one in the future.

Let's assume you're right: that the information is already out there and in the right form for people to use it. If that is true, why are so many people underpaid, and why do so few people ask for raises, comparatively speaking? There are huge gender differences in the rate that people ask for raises, for example...are you suggesting that anyone that hasn't already figured out what they need to do or that needs some help is "silly"?

Heck, if people don't get their raise, we give their money back - even for a skeptic, that seems hard to argue with. If you're so convinced it is a bad product, why don't you sign up, try asking for a raise with it, and if you don't get one within six months, simply ask for your $20 back? We'll be more than happy to refund it if it doesn't work. =]

Guest's picture
Guest

@Nora Dunn I meant to imply that a few years in age equates to more experience. I should have just stated it plainly.

@Matt I'm not too worried since I am pleased with my status.

Guest's picture
Morgyn

Cool website, but it needs to have an option for hourly pay, as well as yearly salary, for part-time and casual workers...

Guest's picture

@Morgyn: We actually do! When you put in your salary, there is a calculator that will translate hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly pay into a yearly salary for comparison. And we're adding semi-monthly as an option in the next release. We're also adding a couple new data sources from our friends over at the BLS that will provide additional data points for both part-time and self-employed workers.