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How to Compare Your Salary to a Co-Worker's When You Want a Raise

Salary discrepancies are normal, reports human resources professional Suzanne Lucas, writing for CBS MoneyWatch in 2011, for those doing the same or similar jobs with a company. There are many reasons for these discrepancies, from company policies to hiring incentives, but it's probably not personal, and Lucas advises it's not worth complaint. However, knowledge of your worth relative to co-workers is useful when you are negotiating a raise, as is researching your value in the open job market.

RELATED: Don't Be Afraid To Ask Your Coworkers How Much They're Making

Company Policies

"Often people ignore policy manuals," says human resources consultant Deb Hunter, of Chicago. "It can be a great source of information on job classifications, qualifications and pay rate guidelines. I recommend reading up-to-date policies as a first step when reviewing your salary." The process of benchmarking -- setting a salary target -- is key to understanding your salary's relation to that of your co-workers. In most companies, actual salaries are compared to the benchmark and expressed as compa-ratios. Someone earning the benchmark number would have a compa-ratio of 100 percent. "Some companies use a benchmark as an upper limit, and others allow ratios of greater than 100 percent," says Hunter. Company benchmarks -- if these are available to you -- are the place to start to evaluate your salary.

Industry Practices

"If your company is behind the rest of the industry, comparing to internal benchmarks may leave you undervalued," says Hunter. "Checking salaries for your job and others like it on the open market helps give a reality check." Hunter points to popular salary and payscale websites as a source of what's happening currently across the country. "The Bureau of Labor Statistics is another excellent source of information, particularly if your job classification is well-defined," says Hunter. "You can find salary ranges for your job in various industries and parts of the country at both state and municipal levels. Keep in mind that statistics do have a margin of error, and BLS estimated data may be over a year old."

Ask Your Co-Worker

Writing for Business Insider.com in 2013, Vivian Giang quoted women's tech career advocate Rachel Sklar on establishing your workplace value. The best way is to ask your co-worker outright, Sklar says. Giang points out that the social media-savvy millennial generation is pioneering workplace transparency. Jen Doll, writing for The Atlantic.com in 2013, agrees that the taboo about talking about salaries is dying. Sharing information -- and using it to get raises -- is more natural and commonplace for younger workers. "Be careful of that company policy manual and any non-disclosure agreements you may have signed," warns Hunter. "If you've agreed not to discuss your salary, doing so may work against you."

RELATED: Could Millennials End Salary Secrecy?

Using Your Information

When you find that your salary is out of line with your co-workers or your industry, it's time to talk to the boss about more money, but don't call it a raise. Instead, says Katie Donovan, writing for the Huffington Post in 2013, call it a salary adjustment. Likewise, tell your boss you want to discuss your salary, so you can present your case, rather than make requests. Lucas advises that you do not use your co-worker's salary as a justification point. Complaining is likely only to harm your chances. Hunter agrees and adds, "The same holds true with pushing industry statistics too aggressively. Salary increases come down to the work you're doing and the value you bring to the company in the future."

Photo via Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

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