Here’s a hypothetical that happens all too often: Jane was hired for $50,000 a year (after negotiating up from $45,000) to do X, Y, and Z. Joan was hired for $70,000 a year to do X, Y, and Z, but Joan sucks at that. Joan’s bosses had her try A, B, and C, but Joan sucks at A, B, and C, so her bosses had her try to also do D, E, and F, at which she also sucks. In fact, Joan is too busy disrupting everyone else’s work to really get much done — and that’s on the rare occasions that Joan isn’t exceeding her vacation days or lying about getting minor plastic surgical procedures for which she leaves work early.
Meanwhile, the bosses have Jane doing X, Y, Z, as well as A, B, C, D, E, and F to compensate for Joan being really fucking useless.
Then Joan blurts out her salary to Jane.
Jane is, understandably, pretty upset. Joan isn’t successful, and Jane is doing the jobs of two people. What should Jane do?
Keep calm. Doing or saying anything rash will not coax your boss to pay you more.
Check your market value. Glassdoor’s “Know Your Worth” tool is invaluable to compare your salary to your market value. Keep in mind that whatever benefits you have at work (whether it’s awesome healthcare, a 401K matching option, etc.) may pick up some the salary slack — but probably not all of it.
Consider other factors that may have gone into her salary. Was your shitty coworker picked up through a recruiter? If so, she may command more money because the recruiter did it for her. Did she negotiate for a higher salary when she got hired? Was the market more competitive when she got hired? Was she born into a rich family and thus had a lot of privilege and time for a slew of unpaid internships while you burned the candle at both ends as a barista just to pay for your textbooks? It’s unfair, but it’s possible.
Don’t drop names. Don’t say specifically who makes more money than you. For example, Jane shouldn’t be like, “But that bitch Joan makes $20K more than I do!” Simply say something like, “I understand that other people here are making salaries in the $Y-range, and industry median is $X, so I’m basing my salary request on that knowledge.”
Ask for what you want. Not asking for a raise (or a bigger one than offered) guarantees that you won’t get what you want.
Demonstrate your value — and quantify it. While you don’t have to use Joan’s name in comparing your salaries, feel free to throw that heifer under the bus when it comes to describing your actual workload if she increases it. Did your web videos get a ton of traffic? Did the company use your work in advertising and not Joan’s? Use that. Document all the incidences in which you did dumbass Joan’s work. Did you rescue a client who was pissed at Joan? Document it, and use that. Bring a list. Refer to it often. This will state, implicitly, that you expect to be paid commensurate with whatever the fuck they’re overpaying dumbass Joan.
Negotiate perks. If they can’t afford the size raise you want, request days to work from home, more PTO, more technical training, more skills development, more creative freedom, or summer Fridays.
Talk to HR. They may be able to give context on why dumbass Joan is making more than you if your management can’t.
Start job hunting. If your dick boss doesn’t want to pay you what you deserve, find a new one who will … but don’t quit until that happens, because you still have bills to pay.