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If you ask an employer why their employee quit, they often say pay. The person found a better deal somewhere else. But, if you ask the employee the same question, pay is rarely the reason.

It’s certainly at the top of their list for the new company they want to work for. But, it’s rarely the real reason they left their old company. As you know, a big reason employees leave is they feel treated unfairly.

This brings the question, “What is fair?”

At a government job (including the military), what’s “fair” can feel more obvious. Pay is a known quantity because pay scales are public information. Promotions and raises are typically scheduled. In this type of job, it’s unlikely you will wake up one day to learn that your peer is making significantly more money than you, or has been awarded more vacation.

In a corporate job however, this isn’t the case at all. I’m the biggest advocate for the job seeker, so don’t get me wrong. But, things work differently in this world.

What’s “fair” often doesn’t matter.

Pay is based on things like how well you negotiated. It may be based on your previous salary history. It could even be based on the college you attended.

It isn’t necessarily based on the following:

  • The quality of your work
  • How senior you are
  • How much money you saved the organization
  • How smart you are

Essentially, fair is what you’re willing to accept.

And, once you’re in the door with a company, they aren’t obligated to pay you more just because you’re a superstar.

It’s upsetting, I know. It can make you angry. It can make you want to scream.

But, in the corporate world, you are your advocate. You’re the one who must convince your company and your boss that you’re valuable. Getting the most money is a game. It’s one you have to play.

And, you have to play it on the front end. Don’t expect future raises to be more than 2-6% annually once you’re at a company.

So, what should you do when you wake up one day to realize that your peers are making more than you?

You could kick and scream. You could quit. There are laws about this stuff, RIGHT?

Yes, you could. And, if you’re truly being mistreated, I don’t want to discourage you from seeking help. But, think about where you want to put your energy.

If your company doesn’t respect you enough to pay you what you’re worth today, what difference will it make if they pay you more tomorrow? You’ll still be in the same unfortunate situation, with a boss who is unlikely to recognize your talents or encourage your growth.

If you learn that you’re being treated unfairly, my suggestion is to start looking for someone who will treat you fairly. Search for a company that values you. Find a boss that will promote you, and be your advocate.

Stop focusing on the past and start looking toward the future.

But, whatever you do, don’t quit your current job (if you can help it). I know it’s awful. I know you hate being there. I get it; you hate your boss. But, if you quit, you will forever have to explain what happened, and why you have a gap on your resume. You’ll forever have to explain that you were underappreciated and underpaid.

Other people may even assume that you were fired. Crazy, right? It’s something we don’t think about when we make the choice to quit, but hiring managers will wonder what happened.

If you are being treated unfairly, I’m terribly sorry. It’s the absolute worst feeling in the world. Hang in there, and refocus your energy on what you can control – YOUR FUTURE. In no time, you’ll find someone who will truly appreciate you!

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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