If you’re underpaid, you need to figure out why. If the work is your passion, then you might decide that not making much money is worth it. You have a sense of purpose and you go to work with positive energy every day knowing you’re changing the world! Or at least paying your dues getting ready to advance your career.
Your Life’s Mission
But if your current job isn’t your life’s work, and you’re living on almost no money, then you should probably start a job search today. If you’re working for a not-for-profit that really is changing the world and bettering lives you still deserve to earn more than you’re earning now! Many executive directors earn six-figure salaries. If you work in a start-up that can’t afford to pay you a large salary yet, then you should at least have equity in the company in addition to your wages. There are lots of ways to combine a sense of purpose with an impressive salary.
An Unequal Relationship
If you find that you’re bringing more value to your organization than you’re being compensated for, then this isn’t fair to you. In fact, as time goes on, your energy and self-worth will eventually be self-depleted, too. Instead of going to work with enthusiasm every day, you start to get frustrated and angry and resentful.
Launch a Job Search
Even if you end up staying where you are, there’s no harm in starting to look around. Applying and interviewing will give you a much better idea of how much you should be earning in your market, and you might even get some leverage to boost your salary in your current job. You don’t have to mention what your dreadful salary is now, but you should aim for the salary that you think is fair
As you start to explore your options, you might discover that the earning ceiling in your current field isn’t actually all that more than you’re earning right now, meaning that even though you might always love your job, you might always struggle financially. If that’s the case, you might want to explore fields that are similar to your own to see if you can find better pay.
As you continue to apply and interview, it’s also helpful to have a conversation with your supervisor about your future in your current organization. Ask if there’s room for advancement and development there. Ask your boss what his thoughts are for the next steps in your career. It’s okay to be honest and tell him that you love the job, but you’ve begun a job search. Show him what you’ve been working on and remind him how much value you add to the company.