Five signs you might be underpaid

This article comes to you courtesy of our friends at Consult Recruitment.

If you’ve been thinking you might be underpaid, here are some signs your thoughts could be well-founded. If any of these ring alarm bells, it’s a good idea to do some research into how your salary compares to market rates.

1. You started out on a low salary

Whether you started on a low salary in your first job, or just in your first role at your current company, it can be hard to shake. As you progress through your career, that low salary becomes your starting point for each pay negotiation, making it difficult for you to catch up without a concerted effort.

2. You’ve been at one company forever

Once you join a company, any annual pay increases will most likely be a percentage of your salary. Often there are limits to what percentage increase your manager can offer you. In New Zealand, it’s common practice to give an increase that’s equivalent to inflation, with maybe an extra percentage or two thrown in for high performers.

This means if you’ve been significantly adding to your skill set and responsibilities, but you’ve only been receiving 1 5% annual pay rises, there’s a good chance your pay has fallen behind the market rate.

3. You’re a woman in a senior position

The reality is that there’s a significant gender pay gap in New Zealand, especially with senior roles.

For example, data from the peer-to-peer salary comparison tool What’s My Worth shows that across New Zealand, women who are full-time financial accountants earn on average only 2% less than their male counterparts. But by the time they reach finance manager level, women working the same number of hours are earning on average 9% less than men – or $9,354 per annum.

4. You took a step backwards or sideways at some point

If you’ve ever made a career decision that meant you had to compromise on salary (e.g. you changed industries, negotiated flexible hours, or moved countries), there’s a strong chance your salary is still below market rates – even if your circumstances have now changed.

5. Your company has a high staff turnover

There are heaps of possible reasons for a high staff turnover rate. However, if it’s not immediately obvious to you why people are leaving (i.e. the culture and management are fine), there’s a good chance it’s happening because they’re underpaid compared to the market, and they’re being lured away by bigger pay packets.  

If you’ve ticked any of these boxes, it doesn’t mean for certain you’re underpaid. The only sure way to find out for sure is to do a little research, and take some action if you’re keen to get it sorted.


If you’re in accounting and finance, hop on over to What's My Worth and enter your details. You’ll be given a detailed breakdown of how your salary and benefits compare to your peers.