Check the job opportunities on the company's careers website
"If there are multiple positions like yours at the company, the job description closely resembles yours, and the salary is higher, that's one of the most obvious signs," workplace expert Lynn Taylor told businessinsider.com. But don't just check out what a similar job pays; explore lower-level jobs within your company as well. Here's why: This allows you to explore what new, younger, or less experienced employees are being paid, and to gauge if that feels reasonable compared to your level of experience and role in the company. (Here are some habits to steal from people who are great at saving money.)
Talk to someone in HR
If you feel comfortable talking to someone in human resources, ask them about other positions in your company. Yes, other. Be friendly and open when you're inquiring, and don't admit you feel unvalued and want a raise. (Discuss that with your boss, first.) Explain that you're curious what entry-level jobs pay compared to when you first started out in the field; or simply state you may be interested in applying for a more senior position in the company and wonder what the salary range is.
Use career websites as a reference
One to try? LinkedIn. The company recently released a new tool, LinkedIn Salary, which shows you which locations pay the most in certain fields, what kind of annual bonuses you can expect, and how certain degrees, like a bachelor's or master's, can impact what you earn. "This helps you make more informed career decisions and is a great way to gain insight into your earning potential," says LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher. "It also provides a resource to explore career opportunities that best fit your desired salary and goals." While you're at it, go through your LinkedIn contact list and find friends or former co-workers who work for a rival company to yours. If it seems like you both have similar responsibilies, but they're making more money (be sure you feel comfortable asking them about salary, to some, remember, the inquiry could be taboo) then it may be a good time to talk to your boss. Here are 12 LinkedIn mistakes that can cost you the job.
According to job search site Monster.com, befriending a headhunter with strong connections in your field can be beneficial in many ways. For starters, they may hear of a job opportunity that's a better match for you—and, if you're lucky, pays more—but they also have some insight into your industry, be it retail, finance, education, and so forth. Monster.com stresses that recruiters are some of the best sources of information about the job market. Since they're working with both large and small employers, they know exactly what price range companies can offer as well as the skills they're looking for. Good rule of thumb: stay in contact with recruiters and refer friends to them as well. The recruiter will greatly appreciate your professionalism and referrals and may really "fight for you" to obtain an interview at your dream company someday if they have that connection.
Keep abreast of the job market
If you read an article, for example, that states a high-tech computer program you use daily is "a must-know," in your field, or you attend a technology lecture where the speaker believes that knowing a certain technology well—which you do—is crucial, use that as leverage when approaching your boss. This way, your justification for a raise is professionally "backed up" by an industry outsider.
Check if your company's revenue has taken off
If your company is private, it's harder to measure revenue growth vs. that of a public company. But if your company's revenue has taken off and your salary has barely increased, chances are some co-workers have received raises and/or bonuses and you have not. "You're likely having discussions about corporate growth with managers in your normal course of business," Taylor says. "This is an opportunity to dig deeper. If you're armed with the fact that the firm has seen 20 percent growth in one year, but your salary is under par, you'll strengthen your argument for a raise." Take note if co-workers on the same level as you seem to take extra vacation days or are being praised company-wide—this could also be a sign they recently received a salary increase.
Talk to your co-workers—but tread carefully
Chances are, you know which colleagues you feel closest to and consider to be a friend outside the office. But be wary—sometimes you shouldn't be too trusting. Career coach Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, cofounder of SixFigureStart shared this advice with MentalFloss.com: "Don't ask someone you barely know or you'll look very unprofessional. Instead, trust your gut about who you can ask directly." She recommends acknowledging that salary visibilty isn't really the "norm" in most offices, but then you could say something like: 'We're not supposed to talk about compensation, but do you think we could share with each other what our base is or give a range?'" If the coworker hesitates or seems uncomfortable, drop it, of course. And if you do get the info, be ready to share your own salary in exchange. Try these other tips for building trust with your co-workers at the office.