Offered a Promotion Without a Raise? Here’s What to Do

Early on in my career, I was thrilled to snag a promotion that would no doubt make my resume sound a lot more impressive. There was just one problem: The promotion didn’t come with a raise — at least not immediately. And while my dreams of having more money to pad my savings account and cover bills were dashed in a very harsh way, ultimately, accepting that promotion was the right thing to do.

If you’ve landed in a situation where you’re being offered a higher-ranking job but no boost in pay, you may be wondering whether you should accept that offer or decline. Here are some steps to take that will help you navigate your decision.

1. Ask why there’s no raise involved

Promotions and raises often go hand in hand. If that’s not the scenario you’ve been presented with, then you have every right to ask why a raise isn’t on the table. It may be that your employer doesn’t have the budget for a raise right now, but that you’ll be in line for one once things open up financially. That’s a compromise you may be willing to deal with.

However, if your employer doesn’t feel compelled to give you a raise in conjunction with a promotion, or doesn’t give a reasonable explanation as to why there’s no raise being offered, consider it a red flag. In that case, you may want to stick with your current job — and potentially work on finding a new one at another company.

2. Figure out how much more work — and pressure — the job will entail

Getting a promotion doesn’t always mean taking on more work. Sometimes, it just means doing different work.

Before you decide whether to accept that offer, do some digging to see what your new role is likely to entail. If it’s comparable hours and a manageable workload, then you may want to move forward. But if you’re being asked to put in extra time and take on extra stress for nothing in return, you’d be more than justified in saying no.

3. Think long-term

A raise-free promotion may not do much for you immediately. But in time, it could help your career — and set you up to earn more money in the future.

By taking a promotion, you might put yourself in a position to apply to another company a year or two from now that offers much higher pay and better opportunities. And so it may be worth it to plug away at a harder job that doesn’t come with a higher salary.

In an ideal world, promotions would always come with raises. But that’s not the way the business world always works. If you’re being offered a promotion but no raise, consider what you have to gain and lose before deciding whether you’ll accept that new position or gracefully bow out. Remember, there’s no rule saying you must accept a promotion when one is offered. And saying no might send the message to your employer that asking people to take on more work without extra pay just isn’t the right thing to do.

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