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What To Do When You Get a Promotion Without a Raise

You got a promotion! You thought it would come with a pay increase, but it came with nothing. If you expected your company to make it rain after you were promoted but you're experiencing a drought, keep reading.

In my last post, I told you how to answer the promotion interview question of "Why do you want this promotion?" Now you're here because you got the promotion. But there must have been an error. You were maybe not quite expecting another zero at the end of your salary... but you were expecting something but nothing's there. Or maybe it's not very much.

And reality hits.

You got the promotion, but you didn't get a pay increase .

So you did but any rational person would do you googled and you found this post. You're thinking "YES, I can finally get my answers." Okay, it's totally okay, this happens. And in this post, I'm going to take you through the four things that you need to do if you're in the situation of having a promotion without a raise.

And just a quick warning. If you're new here, I keep it super real here. So if you're here expecting some really terrible advice about negotiating for time off that you're never going to use anyway, that's not what's happening here. There's other Career Coaches, go check one of those out, that's going to tell you what not to do.

But I'm here to give you the real advice, the real lowdown on what to do when you received a promotion that you've been working your ass off for.

Forget the Salary Surveys

When you've been promoted but it didn't come with a pay increase, the first thing that you need to do is you need to forget about the salary surveys.

If I had a dime for every time that a professional came to me with some information that they got off the internet about what the market is paying for role? Well, I would have a lot of dimes, but they still wouldn't have any more salary in their pockets.

In an ideal world, these two things match, they should match, let's just be honest here with the market pays should be what you get when you're promoted. However, especially within a company, there's a lot of reasons why that might not be, for example, some companies have designated percentages that they get when they promote someone or they have a cap in terms of how much someone can have in terms of increase, even in the scenario of getting a promotion. It doesn't make it any more fair. But it might be the reality that you're facing. So I would be a really bad career coach, and I would be so far out of integrity, if I didn't tell you that those things existed.

What I'm here to help with is how you're going to navigate around it. Now, I could give you the statistic of the average promotion comes with an 8% salary increase. But let me just tell you, in my experience, this is absolute garbage. I've worked with dozens of clients and helped them get promotions and I've gotten multiple promotions myself, I can tell you that I have seen in the real world a range between 0% and 50% salary increase.

Remember, just because your company has a policy in place, it doesn't mean that it's a limit. There's always an exception. And I work with exceptions to the rule. So there might be a way that around it.

What I don't want you to do is I don't want you to deploy the ineffective strategies that most career coaches are going to tell you. Because I've seen people get burned by this in the real world. I had one client who was given really bad advice. And she went armed with her market research about how much more money she should be paid and how underpaid she was. And you know what it did? Her manager spent the next two performance review cycles justifying that she didn't deserve a model get ready for the job she was doing, even though she was amazing.

You do not want to put yourself into this position, you don't want to get into a position where the company needs to defend itself. This is very important if you actually want to get the salary that you deserve.

Did Your Manager Fight For You?

The second thing to keep in mind is whether your manager already gone to bat for you. Now, if you're reporting to a director or VP or whatever, like this, the person that you're reporting to is the person that gave you that promotion, did they already do the best that they actually could do.

This is actually something that I personally experienced, one of my early promotions didn't actually have a very big pay increase, it was really marginal. And I did talk to my manager and my manager had already done absolutely everything that they could do. It was just the situation of the company was in that unique position of time, that they were very restricted in terms of what they could give in terms of salary increases for marriage or for promotion.

So understanding what's already happened behind the scenes, what actually helped me and that's situation was just knowing that there was people fighting for me, and that they knew that I was worth more than what I was getting. Of course it didn't hurt when that was all corrected, and I got a massive pay increase that compensated for that shortfall.

Maybe it's possible that you ask and they just forgot about that component of the promotion. It sounds weird, but this could totally happen, especially if you work for a start up and the person who's giving you the promotion isn't super experienced in terms of promoting people.

Average case scenario is if they've already done as much as they can for you. And what you need to do is continue along to make sure that as soon as more budget becomes available, that it is located to you.

Another thing to keep in mind when you're looking at those market rates, those market rates are giving the average of people that are established in the role, you're very new and role and maybe your company has actually giving you that promotion without the market rate, because they know that it was a reach, but they want to give you the opportunity to succeed.

Is there any reason that you would decline the promotion?

I've already mentioned that not all promotions are created equally. Hopefully you already have an understanding of where you actually want to go in your career. You have your vision and if you don't get started making one by attending my free masterclass if the promotion isn't offering you any professional growth, opportunity and alignment with what you actually want to do, and it's not giving you the financial compensation that you were hoping for, then you need to actually question if it's worth it.

Let's be totally clear. In most cases, it is worth taking the promotion, because any step up the ladder is a step up the ladder.

There are however, some rare circumstances that I've actually seen where it didn't make sense. Now what was people actually struggle with is determining where it actually doesn't make sense. And that can actually take them off path in their career. There's obvious things like maybe it's doubling your hours is doubling your travel schedule, but it's less money, and you're not even interested in the job in the first place. And it's like a lateral move.

Okay, that's not even a promotion. We're not even talking about that.

But there may be unique circumstances where the offer doesn't match up in terms of, we basically have to do like an ROI assessment on it. And do keep that in mind in that situation.

For the vast majority of cases, if you're presented with the opportunity to have a promotion, it is an up-level in general is going to get you where you're trying to go. And you'll want to accept it, even when it doesn't come with a pay increase immediately.

Find leverage

I'm not taking this in a direction that you're expecting me to go in. Because when I say leverage, you're probably thinking that I'm encouraging you to go and get an offer from another company to bring back to your company hopes that you get into a situation where they're going to get you a counter offer and that's going to get you the salary that you really want.

But in reality, if you actually take that counter offer, chances are you're going to be gone within 12 months anyways.

And if you do stay beyond that 12 months, there's a great chance that your career is going to have stalled because you are now a flight risk, and they're not going to want to invest in you in the same way.

If you are going to use this as a strategy, you need to be prepared to leave.

The leverage that I'm talking about is understanding the power that you have, and what you're bringing into the organization in the first place. And this can make a huge difference in terms of getting a promotion without a pancreas, and getting a promotion with a 10, 20 or 50% pay increase.

Listen, one of the biggest mistakes that people make about compensation is they think that compensation is determined by the market.

But that's not true at all.

That's just telling you what the average person is going to be able to fetch, if they go and take a new job opportunity, your compensation should actually be tied to the value that you bring to your organization. And when you understand that your value that you're bringing is above and beyond what someone can walk off the street and give them you're going to be in a position where you can very powerfully negotiate for what you're actually worth.

If you want to take the new title, and you want to bring it into the market and see what you can fetch, totally cool. In fact, I even help my clients do that. But there's much more value in actually digging into this because compensation isn't what the market is willing to pay for the role. Your compensation reflects the value that you bring to the organization, your current company, or your prospective company that's giving you this up level. This is how companies are actually appraising their staff.

Unfortunately, not all companies are, hmm, let's say nice. And a lot of them are actually trying to just limit their spend on staff. So they're going to pay you the minimum amount that they need to pay you for you today. But the more that you understand your value, the more power that you have in a negotiation situation, be a during merit, increase time during the promotion, or any other time that you ask for that pay increase, when the right people at your company, know the value that you provide on a daily basis, and they understand your contributions as well as your potential and that you're very instrumental to their ongoing success and their financial health. They're going to pay you what they need to pay you in order for you to stay.

Not only are you going to be getting the promotion, you're going to be getting the recognition and you're going to be the seat that you need to be to powerfully negotiate your income.

And ultimately, if you have a career up level that isn't showing up in your bank account, it's because you're not effectively communicating your value.

It also indicates that you don't have power advocates that are working for you behind the scenes to not only give you the opportunities that you deserve, but also the compensation that you deserve. There's a lot of reasons why you might not be in a position where you can effectively communicate your value. Ultimately it generally comes down to one thing and that is mindset.

If you don't have a success mindset, if you don't know or own your power, not only are you going to be at a disadvantage in a negotiation, you're going to struggle to be known for being the top talent that you are.

You need to change this if you're going to be compensated what you're worth, which is far above the average salary for whatever you do.

And you can begin this transformation today. The best place for you to get started is in my free masterclass the five steps to get promoted. in it. I'm going to help you with your mindset as well as some other simple but powerful strategies that are going to help you accelerate your career. You can register and watch it on demand at and the address is down below.

Now, I'd love to know have you ever actually taken a new role or a promotion without getting a pay increase? Let me know in the comments if you have if this post was helpful, make sure to share it with a friend that would find it helpful!

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