With the rising cost of living, it is definitely going to be a bummer (not to mention a demotivator) when you find out that you are underpaid – or in most cases, not paid enough for the amount of work you put in.


For example, you are working 10 hours a day and paid $100 versus a friend who works 5 hours a day and gets $80 – you do the math.


If you’ve watched the Hawaiian investigation series ‘Hawaii Five-O’ by CBS, you’d know a few Asian actors that are on the front line of the investigation scene. Lead stars, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park decided to leave the series after a salary dispute. Mind you, they were the backbone of the show for seven seasons but, guess what? They were paid at a lower rate than their white colleagues.


So, what can you do about it? Storm into your boss’ room and demand a raise?


Sounds enticing but may not be such a good idea if you don’t have a strategy and some proof to back you up. But not to worry, we are here to uncover the secrets so you’ll be properly remunerated.


1) Do Your Research

Let’s face it, some people feel entitled to many things and just to ensure you do not make the percentage, it is wise to do your research on what you are currently doing, what was expected of you (look at your contract/employee handbook), look at how much other companies are paying people who have similar job scope/job positions as you.


Put all your findings on paper and you will be able to see if you are truly underpaid – or not. Take note of the responsibilities you are managing, how you are an asset to the company and also the market rate in your locality.


2) Communicate Your Wins

This is probably the most difficult step to take because most people are not very upfront about being compensated fairly for the effort they put it. Many can be confident about how well they work and the success of their projects but when it comes to communicating their achievements to the boss, the words seem to not form quite incessantly.


Hence, it is important that you schedule a private meeting with your superior and not just knock on the door and ask if he/she has a moment to talk. Be professional, schedule a meeting.


During the meeting, let your manager know that you would like to go through your tasks and just an overview of what you have done over the past year or throughout your employment.


Keep it simple and short.


3) Ask Strategically

Not that you need to reread ‘Sun Tzu’s The Art of War’ before you are equipped to ask for a pay raise strategically but a little planning and coordination does help to get the message across more effectively.


After you communicate your wins, it is time to let your boss know your expected pay increase. Don’t ask without a goal in mind. Remember that the amount you are asking for is the reward you get for the tasks you are completing along with the additional responsibilities that you have taken on along the way.


4) Be Prepared for Rejection

If you are working in an MNC, don’t expect the answer to come immediately. Your manager will have to discuss with the HR department and other people tasked at reviewing your request and your work quality.


If your boss agrees with your remuneration – CONGRATULATIONS!


If your boss says no – don’t cry and don’t cuss. Just follow these steps:

  1. Say thank you
  2. Ask for feedback
  3. Excuse yourself and refocus (go through what your boss highlighted and if there is anything for you to improve on)
  4. If you think that you are still not properly compensated, remember that there are many opportunities outside.


Don’t fret, even Hollywood is drowned with famed actors and actresses that are not paid fairly – it happens. Just know your self-worth and curate your path of success accordingly if your current company does not seem to value your contributions.

Edwin Ang
Author: Edwin Ang


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