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

By Leah Arnold-Smeets - Sep 18, 2015 at 4:05PM

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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 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..."

But just as you're getting ready to jump for joy, she cuts your moment of glee short by saying, "...but we can't give you a raise at the moment."

Wait, what?

Before you throw 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.

1. What changes come with this new title?
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, and you can still 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. Perhaps your employer hit a rough spot in the business and needs to watch expenditures closely for a bit, even though your boss really wants to give you that promotion you 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 you would if they had offered to 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 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 necessarily 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 a 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 toward your employer.

4. Can you negotiate other perks/forms of compensation instead?
Instead of sulking about dollars and cents, or lack thereof, you should try 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 that if you're trustworthy enough to get a promotion (with a raise or not), you're trustworthy enough to work from home now and then -- or, at the very least, to take a few more days of vacation without falling behind in your work. Fight for your rights and negotiate a fair package that costs the company little to nothing.

5. Is the risk of declining the offer greater than the risk of 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 (think experience and knowledge). At the very least, you'll be building your resume up with your fancy new title so that, in the event you aren't fairly compensated in a reasonable amount of time, you can move on to greener pastures.

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