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Promoted Without a Raise? What to Do If It Happens to You

By Maurie Backman - May 22, 2017 at 10:26AM

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Just because you're taking on more responsibility doesn't mean you'll be getting more money out of the deal. Here's how to navigate this increasingly common scenario.

You've worked hard, delivered results, and are finally getting the acknowledgement you deserve in the form of a long-awaited promotion. There's just one problem: Your glorious new role doesn't actually come with a bump in compensation. It's the sort of thing that happens more often than you'd think, so here's how to handle the situation if it (unfortunately) arises.

1. Call your company out -- politely

There may be a very good reason why your promotion doesn't come with a raise. For example, if your company's policy is to only give out raises at the start of the new calendar year, and you're promoted in July, you may have to wait to get your hands on that extra cash. Still, you deserve an explanation, and if your manager doesn't offer one, you should know that you have every right to ask. As long as you inquire respectfully, your question shouldn't trigger a whole lot of backlash.

Meeting at work


Now, it could be the case that your company offered you a raise-free promotion to see if you're actually up to the challenge of doing the job. If so, then that extra compensation might be yours three or six months down the line. Still, you should feel free to ask about it -- politely.

2. Negotiate other benefits

Perhaps your company is on some sort of budgetary freeze or simply doesn't have enough money to offer additional compensation immediately. If that's the case, and you know your promotion is going to increase your workload, then it pays to negotiate some added perks in lieu of cash. Try requesting an extra week of vacation, or the option to work from home more frequently to shave down your commuting costs.

Furthermore, if your absent raise is truly a matter of lacking finances, you might negotiate some sort of deal wherein you get priority the moment that cash flow picks up. You never know what your company might agree to, especially if it's clear that management wants you to accept its offer.

3. Decide whether it pays to decline

If, despite your best efforts, you're unable to secure an alternative means of compensation, and your company is unwilling to make any raise-related promises with regard to your new role, then you'll need to figure out whether it makes sense to accept it in the first place. To do so, start by thinking about the responsibilities you'll be taking on. Will they help boost your skill set and advance your career, or will you simply be doing more of the things you're already doing in your current role?

Remember, even if your promotion doesn't earn you extra money at your current job, working at a higher level for, say, a year might offer an opportunity to pursue a better-paying job elsewhere. But if you really don't think your promotion will do much for your career, and your added responsibilities sound like nothing more than a drain on your limited time, then you may be better off declining graciously.

Will passing up that promotion impact your job security? Hopefully not. There's always the chance that your company will view you as less of a team player if you decline a promotion that betters the business, but not you individually. But it's a risk worth taking if you don't see a single benefit of working harder for no additional pay.

On the other hand, if your company's management is reasonable, and you respectfully make your case, they might come to appreciate your honesty. Either way, take it as a sign that it may be time to start looking for a new job elsewhere -- perhaps at a company where promotions and raises typically go hand in hand.

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