How To Navigate A Massive Pay Gap Between You And Your Coworkers

Unsplash / Matthew Henry

When it comes to talking about salary, we’d bet that most people just don’t, or they only disclose it to maybe their closest friends. Sharing that information could definitely help you understand what the industry average is among those in your field, but there are also a number of drawbacks. If you and your coworkers just had a chat about what you make and you found out that one of them makes more than you do — even if you both are on the same position level — there are things you can do.

Know your rights.

In the extreme case that you’re making so little that it’s considered unlivable, while your coworker who has the same position and experience level is making tens of thousands more, look into whether you have rights you’re not exercising on the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website.


Think about your performance.

Finding out that your coworker makes more than you can be really awkward, and your first thought might be to point fingers or stomp into your boss’s office. But there are a million factors that go into how everyone’s paid, like years of experience and types of experience. Assuming that your situation isn’t bad enough that you’d want to look into your rights, you should take this time to reflect inward and come up with a plan for how you can prove that you deserve more going forward. Work harder, think of interesting ways to get involved in other departments if possible and show your boss that you’re ready to put in the work to eventually get some extra dough.

Negotiate your ass off.

Knowing how to negotiate is key anywhere you go, especially if you’re not making the industry average. Thankfully, you can negotiate a bonus or extra benefits at any point in your career, and you can likely set up a meeting with your boss to discuss upping your pay at any point. Your boss may say, “We don’t have it in the budget right now,” or, “Let’s talk in six months once you’ve accomplished X.” Either way, get the conversation going that you believe you deserve compensation that matches your current performance, or that you’ll meet performance criteria by a certain date to receive additional compensation.

Potentially leave the company.

If you’ve discussed a potential raise with your boss, worked hard and still don’t see any changes to your salary in the near future, it might be time to look elsewhere. At the end of the day, if you can say that you worked hard consistently and haven’t seen proportional rewards after a reasonable amount of time, you’re not being valued the way you should be. Use your negotiating skills somewhere else, and you could find yourself in a better position.