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Didn’t Get That Raise? Do These 5 Things Next

Topics: Negotiation

Seventy-five percent of people who ask for a raise receive some kind of pay increase, according to PayScale’s survey. While that’s good news most of the time, chances are that at some point in your career, you’ll eventually find yourself among the disappointed 25 percent.

When that happens, the important thing is to move forward. Just because you didn’t get a raise this time, doesn’t mean that you’ll never get another pay increase.

If you’ve recently had a disappointing discussion with your boss about compensation, here’s what to do next:

1. Be gracious.

The most important thing you can do after not getting a raise is to maintain your composure. It’s essential to be professional and gracious when receiving bad news at work, especially when money is involved. (Money is always emotional, and chances are, your manager isn’t any happier about the situation than you are.)

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes, if you can, and listen to what she tells you. Budgets may be closed, or the company may be having financial trouble, in which case, chances are good that no one is getting a raise. On the other hand, she might have some advice for you about areas for potential improvement; even if your first impulse is to disagree, take in the information and consider it. You might learn something valuable that can help you get to the next level.

2. Look at the big picture.

It’s easy to beat yourself up in these situations; resist the urge. There’s almost certainly more going on here than just you failing to impress your boss. (Yes, even if there’s room for improvement in your job performance!)

Not getting a raise can be an opportunity. Now’s a good time to consider whether it seems like there’s a future for you at the organization. Do you want your boss’s job someday, or another role higher up the ladder? Do you see enough resources, recognition and opportunity to make things happen? If not, it might be time to get your resume together and start networking your way into a new job somewhere else.

Of course, it’s also possible that in reviewing your situation, you’ll discover that you’re happy where you are, raise or no raise. That’s also valuable knowledge. In any case, a little soul-searching never did anyone any harm.

3. Double-check your data.

Hopefully, you went into your meeting with a realistic idea of your value on the job market, given your experience, skills and education. But if not, now’s the time to give yourself a reality check. PayScale’s free Salary Survey will help you set a salary range that’s appropriate.

If you crunch the numbers and discover that you are indeed underpaid, the next step is to figure out if the company offers you enough other benefits to make staying worthwhile, at least in the short term. Does your compensation include valuable benefits that offset a lower salary, or perks like telecommuting that improve your work-life balance? Take all this into consideration.

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4. Look for opportunities to upskill.

If your boss indicated that your skills were lacking, now’s the time to pinpoint the areas where you could improve. Ask your manager to be as specific as possible about the skills that would help you move forward. Then do some research on your own.

Check out LinkedIn profiles for people who have your job and ones directly above yours on the org chart. Which hard and soft skills do they offer that you currently lack? Then set about upskilling yourself to fill the gap.

5. Make a plan for the future.

Once you’ve determined what you need to do to get a raise, make a plan — or several. You might decide to look for opportunities both inside and outside of your current employer, or change tracks entirely and start forging a new career path. Update your resume. Strengthen your network. Look for chances to take on more responsibility, learn new things and meet new people. Focus on the future.

See PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide for more tips on getting the salary you deserve.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the best negotiation advice you’ve ever received? We want to hear from you. Share your tips in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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