Dear Prudence

Help! Am I Being Underpaid?

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Sam Breach.

Q, To ask or not ask? I have happily been working at a nonprofit for two years. I understand that my job doesn’t pay competitively with private companies, and I am OK with that. However, I am experienced in my field and am on track to be a manager in the next several years. Recently, I noticed that another nonprofit posted a job opening for my exact same job—same amount of experience, similar duties, etc.—but the salary is quite a bit more than what I make. I don’t want to leave my job, because I love it and am on track to being a manager, but it bothers me that I am being underpaid. Should I bring this job opening, and its salary, up with my boss? I don’t want to burn bridges.

A: It’s not burning a bridge at all, and I’m so glad you asked! Sometimes comparing salaries can feel underhanded or somehow “not done” because companies generally discourage workers from disclosing information that could benefit one another at management’s expense. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with advocating for yourself. Do a little more research—it may be that this job opening is an outlier, or you may find that you are paid significantly less than most people with similar positions in your field. Set up a meeting with your manager and make a case for a raise that takes into account your previous contributions, the standard market rate, and the future value you offer the company. Don’t frame it as a demand—“X company is paying Y dollars, so I need the same right now or I’m quitting”—but use that information to build a strong case for your raise. Best of luck to you!