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5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Promotion Doesn’t Come With a Raise

It's the moment you've been waiting for – promotion time! You've worked so hard and have given your absolute all to prove that you are capable of more in your career. Then, your boss says those magical words, "We'd like to award you a promotion to…," but just as you're getting ready to jump for joy, she cuts your moment of glee short when she says, "…but, we can't give you a raise at the moment." Wait, what? Before you thrown in the towel and tell your boss where to shove it, take a step back and ask yourself these questions to help you cope with your raiseless promotion.

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – promotion time! You’ve worked so hard and have given your absolute all to prove that you are capable of more in your career. Then, your boss says those magical words, “We’d like to award you a promotion to…,” but just as you’re getting ready to jump for joy, she cuts your moment of glee short when she says, “…but, we can’t give you a raise at the moment.” Wait, what? Before you thrown in the towel and tell your boss where to shove it, take a step back and ask yourself these questions to help you cope with your raiseless promotion.

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(Photo Credit: _J_D_R_/Flickr)

1. What changes come with this new title?

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With a new title usually comes more responsibility and work, which is why employees expect a bump in compensation. However, sometimes promotions are lateral and don’t necessarily warrant a pay increase, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t benefit from these types of advancements. With a lateral promotion, you can gain valuable experience in your new position and have more negotiation power once your next performance review comes up.

2. Is this a test of your character and skill?

Just because you weren’t given more money at the time of your promotion, doesn’t mean you won’t be awarded a raise in the near future. Your employer could have hit a rough spot in business and needs to watch expenditures closely for a bit, but, at the same time, your boss really wants to give you that promotion you’ve earned and deserve. Therefore, you’re offered a title promotion for now and given an IOU, so to speak, for when company funds are more abundant. The best thing you can do is step up to the plate and trust that you were given this promotion for a valid reason that will pay off later. Pay it forward by working just as diligently as if they offered you double your salary and you’ll (hopefully) reap the rewards later.

3. Are you being greedy or ungrateful?

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been shortchanged by your employer when a promotion comes without a raise, but don’t let those feelings of greed cause you to become ungrateful for your accomplishment – because that’s truly what it is.

Remember, you may be entitled to the title, but not necessary to more money. The first step is to evaluate your new job title as you would a job offer from another company. PayScale’s Salary Survey is good place to compare your compensation package against that of your peers in the industry.

You were given a promotion because your boss recognized your hard work and dedication, so don’t let the dollar amount on your paycheck prevent you from continuing to prove yourself in your work and advance in your career. Greed will only eat away at your spirit and cause you to become resentful towards your employer.

4. Can you negotiate other perks/forms of compensation instead?

Instead of sulking about dollars and cents, or lack thereof, you should be trying to negotiate another form of compensation for your promotion. If money is the issue for your employer, then ask them for other perks like telecommuting options, more vacation or sick leave days, or a more flexible work schedule. Chances are, if you’re trustworthy enough to be warranted a promotion (with a raise or not), you’re probably trustworthy enough to work from home now and then, or, at the very least, deserving of a few more days of vacation. Fight for your right and negotiate a fair package that cost the company little to nothing.

5. Is the risk of declining the offer greater than accepting?

Only you can determine whether your promotion is worth the title, but not the pay. I’m not suggesting that you remain overworked and underpaid forever, but I do encourage you to see past the money portion of the promotion for the time being and try to profit in other ways from your new responsibilities and authority (e.g. experience and knowledge). At the very least, you’ll be building your resume up with your fancy new title so that, in the event that you aren’t compensated in fair amount of time, you can go on to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you been given a promotion without a raise? If so, let us know how things turned out. Share your story with our community on Twitter or in the comments below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Priscilla
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Priscilla

Greedy and ungrateful for wanting a raise along with the new promotion? Why even offer the promotion if you’re not offering a raise? The greed and ungrateful traits are that of the employer.

Bruce
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Bruce

We also have to watch out for employers that exploit it because, simply, it’s them getting more work from you for the same price.

James
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James

Ridiculous. If you are asked to do more work or work that deserves more pay, you should be paid for that work immediately, not “in the future”. If you don’t want to be screwed by your employer, don’t put yourself in a position to get screwed. If a company needs your time and talent for their business, they have to be able to pay for it. Employees should not be expected to carry the load of the company without fair compensation. If your employer can’t pay you for the work, then use the time, energy, stress for your own self… Read more »

crusty
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crusty

here’s the situation: Hiring manager in extending offer: We make a point to hire good people here and provide a great learning atmosphere and opportunities for you to develop professionally. You seem like a good fit and we’d like to welcome you aboard Supervisor after completion of on-boarding and a couple monthsof transition: Business has been pretty good of late and I know your workload is pretty heavy and have been regularly working some extra hours. But now that you’re pretty much up to speed, I’d really like you to take on project XYZ. Employee thinking to himself: Hmmm –… Read more »

Jessica Bradley
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Jessica Bradley

This is…the worst career advice I’ve ever read. You might as well have scrapped the whole thing and just wrote “be grateful for your job you fool.” Awful.

MR
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MR

I once worked for a very large aerospace company as a salaried employee. One of the VPs decided that to keep projects on track, all salaried employees were expected to work a 45 hour week for 40 hours pay. Most of us at our facility were doing 45 or more already without it being mandated because we enjoyed our job. Our customer (DoD) got wind of it and told the company “You’re getting 10% of your labor for free so we want a 10% reduction in contract labor cost.” Guess how long it took to rescind that original memo. LOL.… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

I’m living this right now. I worked my a$$ off for 6 months when my old boss left. I transitioned into her role as a “try before you buy” situation. I never got any negative feedback on my work. Now, not only did I not get a pay (or any compensation increase) for that matter, but I also got layered in my reporting structure. Instead of reporting to a C-level, I report to a newly promoted manager. Not sure what to do in this situation. I don’t consider this to be a promotion at all.

Rahella
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Rahella

Its not easy to accept that you have to take on more responsibility with no pay increase, two people left my company and I went from a standard co-worker to handling my own job and the managers, now its going to be official im taking it on as part of my role but there has been no mention of pay increase… in my opinion you should be paid for what you contribute. How to bring this up and get what you want? No idea…

TJ
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TJ

I work for a company who gives a 10cent raise for promotion however the company I worked for (still in good standing with) gives a full dollar for each step up the ladder (we’re talking entry level stuff, you know, places people hate to work) so in my head, I am calculating if my new position worth the 10cent or do I go back to my old job for same pay and less responsibility?

Entry level jobs. x_x

VT
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VT

i think this is great advise. I feel that you should mention to your boss that you deserve the better pay that comes with the new title. You do not have to blindly accept it and wait for years. If your boss value your work, he/she would come up with a plan to give you a raise in parts etc. I think a good idea to ask your boss for additional training, mentoring as well. Even though training cost money, it is minor expense. It could be a certificate program for Excel or project management certification or similar depending on… Read more »

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