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Asking for a Raise: Turning a "No" Into a "Yes"

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Sep 09, 2013 | 0 Comments

When it came to asking your boss for a raise, you did everything right. You wore your professional best, documented your accomplishments, and researched comparative salaries in your industry.

The only thing you didn't prepare for was a big “no.” Naturally, your first instinct is to flip your chair and knock over your boss's coffee, but the important thing is to remain calm in order to find opportunities hidden in the bad news.

Set a Foundation for a 'Yes' in the Future

While your answer may be a “no” now, in a few months, it could easily turn into a “yes” with rewards even greater than your original request. To set the foundation for a yes in the future, it's important to react professionally when you're turned down for a raise.

Below are some tips to keep in mind:

Find out the reason

Although MarketWatch reports the number of companies freezing or cutting salaries has declined over the past three years, in most cases, raises are denied because of budgets. Unfortunately, that means there's little you can do but wait it out. On the other hand, if you're denied because your work has not met your boss's expectations, this is your opportunity to discuss your need for improvement, build on your strengths, and work together to set professional goals that will boost your career overall.

Go with Plan B

Maybe your company doesn't have the budget for financial rewards at the moment, but are there other benefits that can be negotiated in the meantime

  1. flex time
  2. extra time off
  3. work at home opportunities can create a work/life balance that in many cases a higher salary can't satisfy.

Prepare yourself for next time

Once you ask for a raise and are turned down, it's safe to say your manager will likely scrutinize your work more closely the moment you leave the office. This is your opportunity to show what you're made of! Keep a list of your accomplishments, take a class or two to boost your skills, and most important, make sure you're living up to office expectations such as arriving to work on time and meeting deadlines. It's also a great idea to schedule ongoing meetings with your manager before your next salary request to gauge your progress.

Keep your dejection to yourself

When you feel you have been snubbed, it's human nature to become passive aggressive or bad mouth your boss. However, creating a hostile work environment is one way to put the kibosh on future salary raises – or worse, to get you fired so you earn no salary at all. In many cases, your boss may have no control over raises due to company policy, and setting him or her up as the bad guy will set you up for failure.

Seek out new opportunities

A raise denial may just be the tipping point you need to look for a new opportunity in your field, especially if you are unhappy in your current position. According to Fortune magazine, you can expect a 14 to 26 percent increase in your salary when changing jobs, depending on your field. However, it's critical to keep mum about your search until an opportunity arises. If you are wooed by another company, it may be a key negotiating tool in seeking a pay increase at your current job.

Need More Advice? Ask an Employment Law Attorney at Barrett & Farahany, LLP

There are few things more disappointing in the professional world than to be denied the compensation you feel you deserve. Yet, handling this bump in your career path with maturity and determination can get you one step closer to a bigger raise in the future, whether it's for your current company or a new company altogether.

If you are asking for a raise because you feel that you are being paid less than others of equal skill level, you might want to consult an employment attorney. At Barrett and Farahany we offer consults to employees facing discrimination or unjust situations in their place of employment. Our dedication to our clients is why an attorney will answer your call and provide sound legal advice on your particular situation. Find out more about the laws pertaining to equal pay and discrimination in the workplace, we believe in everyone getting “Justice At Work”.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

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