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Turned Down for a Raise? Here’s What to Do Next

employees negotiating pay raise

Did you know that most people don’t even bother to negotiate salary with their employer? Yeah, we were surprised, too. According to a recent survey, only 39 percent of people broach this oft-dreaded money conversation.

So, even if your raise request was rejected, take heart in the fact that you’re bolder than 61 percent of all workers!

The good news is that asking for a raise is generally a wise idea. The bad news? You didn’t get what you asked for. If you feel defeated, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward because this isn’t the end of the line. You either need to rebuild your negotiation technique or just do a little tweaking.


Evaluate your negotiation process

Evaluating your process is the best way to improve your likelihood of future success. There’s a method to negotiation madness, and the key is to be honest with yourself about what’s missing. Gauge your actions rationally and objectively, which may not be easy but is always necessary.

It’s possible that your employer denied your request for reasons that had more to do with how you asked than what you asked.

Let’s pull back the curtains to rewatch the scene in your boss’s office. You’ve just wiped the sweat off your palms, smoothed your button-down and cleared your throat.

Avoid the following when asking for a raise:

  • Barging in
  • Making unreasonable demands
  • Whining, complaining or begging
  • Neglecting to identify what your raise will do for the employer

Maybe none of the above circumstances apply. Maybe your timing was wrong. Maybe you didn’t compile data and anecdotes to beef up your value.

Or, you accepted a zero raise too easily and needed to push back a little more (not too hard, though; keep it respectful).

Before we dive into performance strategy, do your homework. Support your desire for more money with numbers and facts.

What to consider when asking for a raise:

  • What’s reasonable: Research what other people in your market with similar skills earn
  • Your day-to-day contributions: How has your work helped them meet their goals?
  • Your experience: Showcase your growth and development. Prove that you’re better now than ever.To make these determinations, it can be helpful to pick your colleagues’ brains, but be careful with the how, the who and the where. Money talk is taboo at many companies.

Suggest a performance plan

Hopefully, you weren’t turned down immediately after you asked for a pay increase and your employer offered some useful feedback about why you haven’t earned a raise... yet. If they have, use that valuable information as a motivator!

Then offer to construct a performance plan with benchmarks that would qualify you for a raise if you hit them.

What to include in a performance plan:

  • New projects or initiatives you want to manage
  • Plans for new certifications or training courses
  • Mentoring or training newer employees
  • Customers or clients brought in directly through your own personal network and entrepreneurial sales acumen
  • Positive influence on workplace morale
  • Getting familiar with other departments at your workplace, where you can offer support (and who knows — you might just find a different, higher-paying role!)
  • Generally going above and beyond your basic work responsibilities, which can make you more visible to the people who bump wages
  • Anything else your supervisor might suggest — collaborate!

Don’t forget to frequently check on your progress with your manager. If you have an established timeline, stick to it. Otherwise, once a quarter or after six months is a great jumping-off point.

Consistency is key. Keep showing up to do the work and keep doing more than you did before. (But be careful to avoid burnout.)

Capturing a performance plan in writing will take most of the sting out of the refusal, give you direction and help you avoid guessing what more you’re supposed to do. Plus, you’ll have data you can use in the next round of negotiations.

Find an advocate

If you’ve met all your employer’s requirements, but they don’t follow through with the money, this could be a sign that you aren’t as valued as you thought. If you’ve tried everything, you may need to look someplace else for a raise.

Thankfully, the 2019 job market looks favorable as it currently stands, and job-hopping after two-year stints has been shown to grow wages faster than staying put.

Consider contract positions, which allow you to hit the reset button more often throughout your career, but don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of a built-in advocate who wants higher wages just as much as you do.