underpaid salary

5 things to do when we feel we are underpaid

5 things to do when we feel we are underpaid

Anyway, I am quite serious when I tell my friends that anytime we feel we are underpaid, we should get a higher paying job. Why must we keep suffering from being underpaid? However, are we ready for a higher paying job? Do we have what it takes? Are we able to get a better paying new career with our current experience? That demand vs supply equation, are there only a few of ‘us’ in the market? Unless the answers to all are a YES, then it’s likely to be hard to change and hope to get much higher pay. Well, here are 5 things to do yeah if indeed we feel we are underpaid.

#1 – Are we sure we are underpaid?

If we do not know for sure, find out. No point in thinking we are underpaid but actually we are already being paid higher than most people in the industry with the same position title. One place to check: https://www.jobstreet.com.my/en/career-insights Just need to enter the position title and we will get a salary range like the below image. We will then have an idea if we are underpaid, overpaid or well around there in the middle. Else, just type ‘salary range for xxxx in Malaysia” and you will have lot of references too.

Source: Jobstreet.com.my

#2 – Do we know why we are underpaid?

Let’s say after checking, we realised we are underpaid. Do we know why? Is it because we are working in a smaller town where the salary is lower? If so, is the cost of living in this smaller town also lower than the city? Do not just look at the salary alone but salary minus all the expenses…

Is it because the company we work just could not afford to pay any higher? (whether due to business or because the boss is stingy and calculative) Is it because our current responsibilities are considered easy to do and thus anyone and everyone could do it? Is it because we are just the only one or few people getting lower pay because we are old-timers and they pay new people higher than us due to market pressure?

Is it because of the industry we are working in? There are industries or businesses which could pay higher because they are in growing industries. There are however industries and businesses which are in a less rosy world. Tourism related for example would have suffered tremendously due to Covid-19.

#3 – Could we do something to improve the situation?

If we really love the company, we should have a conversation with the manager. Ask for more responsibilities (especially the ones which you will soon become a specialist in the company) and start doing it very well. If the company appreciates it, they will show it. If they do not, then only we take the next step which is to look for some other place which would pay us higher.

If we do not like the company, it’s time to start updating our resume. Job choices aplenty! Look at the positions we like to apply with a salary range which is higher than what we are earning today. Refer to the Job Description and the Job Requirements for the job and use those learnings to craft our resume. Just remember that if the resume is not related at all to the job, even if we apply 100 times, we are not going to be interviewed.

Could we switch to another industry? Perhaps it pays to note which are the industries which are growing by leaps and bounds and which are the industries which has slowed down and is now very stable.

#4 – Could we really get a job which pays us more?

Once we start to get job offers from other companies, it will start to tell us if we are truly underpaid or it’s just what we thought. If most of the job offers we could get are for jobs which are similar in nature and salary range, we need to realise that the real issue is not the company, the world or anyone. The problem may be just us. Then, it’s time to look deeper into what’s really happening.

Are we disadvantaged because we do not have a formal education, a degree for example. If so, it may be time to improve on this situation and just blaming anyone or everyone or kept debating that our experience is more important than a degree will actually not help us in getting a higher pay.

Are we disadvantaged because of a certain skill, certain experience or even due to certain attitudes? Some jobs require project management skill, do we have them? Some jobs may require leadership experience, do we have them? Some jobs require that person to have the ‘never give up’ attitude. Think about it.

Are we considered as someone hard to work with even in our current organisation? For skills, it can be learnt. Sign up for courses! Spend time on useful youtube videos and not just watch latest series. For experience, it can be gained. Example, join Toastmasters and start getting that leadership opportunity. If it’s attitude, it can be changed if we know about it.

#5 – If all fails, could we stay focused on investing instead?

Let’s say after trying hard, we just could not get higher pay. Well, higher pay is just more money. Could we also think about how to invest our money then? For example, spend lesser than what we earn and use that to invest. If we are well versed with property investment, it’s possible to double our wealth in 10 years with the right investment. Not possible? Here’s a super simple calculation.

RM40,000 (savings) which is invested into property investment may enable us to buy a RM400,000 property. Double our wealth is NOT when RM400,000 property becomes RM800,000 property. We did NOT invest RM400,000. We invested just RM40,000. In other words, as long the price of the property increased to RM440,000 it’s already an extra RM40,000 versus the price we paid for and RM40,000 return versus RM40,000 investment is 100% returns.

Now imagine what would have happened if we spent the RM40,000? We lost the chance to double it. What is we put the RM40,000 into the Fixed Deposit? We will get an extra RM800 per year or RM4,000 after 5 years! If we put the money into a dividend stock? If the stock gives 10% returns per year, then RM40,000 would give RM4,000 dividends per year or RM20,000 after 5 years…


It does not have to be just salary. It also does not need to be just investment. Who knows, we may want to be business owners instead? We just need to know that not everyone will thrive as a business owner. In fact some may struggle to even survive.

Please do not work until we have to retire. Work only until we can choose to retire. Make it a choice instead of a need. Whatever we earn, invest it. Get to know some of our working friends who already own a few properties. Following their examples would mean a safer option. Keep the job and invest at the same time.

There is really no need to choose either one. Of course, continue reading kopiandproperty.my because the editor (that’s me) believe every professional can continue working and investing at the same time, slowly. Happy finding a job that pays us for our worth. Staying underpaid is our fault.  

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Next suggested article: Bankruptcy in Malaysia during the MCO period. High or low?

Header Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay


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