Raise Request Rejected? Experts Explain What To Do Next

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Asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking experience. You know you run the risk of not getting the amount you want, or having your request rejected outright. However, if the latter does end up happening, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the conversation.

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Here’s what to do if your request for a raise gets rejected.

What To Do If Your Manager Says the Salary Is Set by HR or the Employer

Your manager may say it is not possible to raise your salary because a cap has been set by human resources or by corporate limitations. But you can push back and ask to continue the conversation further.

Robin Madell, a career writer with FlexJobs, recommends trying the following script: “I understand exactly where you’re coming from, and what you’re saying makes perfect sense. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching the standard salary range for this position. From my perspective, based on my experience level, I do believe that the figure should be a bit higher. Would it be possible for you to share these thoughts with HR and get back to me?”

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You also should point out all of the work you do that is outside of the parameters of your job description, said Laura Smith-Proulx, former recruiter and executive resume writer with An Expert Resume: “Do you publish or speak at conferences on a hot industry topic? Have you developed and trained other team members, who then contributed bottom-line value in savings, new sales or other ways? Do you negotiate vendor agreements or evaluate them to get the most cost-effective service?”

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Be Open To Other Forms of Compensation

If your manager or employer is unwilling to raise your salary, see whether they would be willing to offer additional benefits or perks.

“Other perks you could negotiate include a mileage allowance, mass transportation expenses or the use of a company car if you’re traveling to client sites; or a wardrobe allowance if you’re required to don a suit to the office,” Smith-Proulx said. “Anything required by your employer in order to perform your work should be up for negotiation.”

Make Your Money Work Better for You

You also may ask for benefits that will help you with your career development.

“Consider the job you want to get next and ask yourself if there are skills or experience you could acquire in your current role to help set you up for success when applying to future roles,” said Sarah Doody, founder of the Career Strategy Lab. “For example, ask for an updated job title to reflect your responsibilities and set you up for the future role you want to get. You could ask for an increased budget to take various classes or attend conferences that will help you in your current role and possibly help you acquire skills for future roles. If you want to expand your skill set at your current company, you could express your interest in another part of the business and possibly shadow peers for a month.”

In addition, you can ask for benefits that will improve your work-life balance, such as a flexible schedule or permission to work remotely more often, Doody said. She also recommends asking for lifestyle budget perks.

“Many companies are offering budgets for home offices, internet access, gym memberships or even food delivery service to compensate for perks that used to be available when everyone worked in a physical office,” Doody said. “You could even try to negotiate a budget for wellness and personal growth apps, such as Headspace, Peloton and Audible.”

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Other perks you may ask for include additional PTO, day care reimbursement, gas cards, grocery allowance or travel discounts, said Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust, a Denver-based recruitment agency.

“Remember that compensation is only one component of why you work for a company,” she said. “Don’t be hasty and make a compensation-only decision because the grass is often not greener on the other side.”

Ask Whether You Can Revisit the Conversation Later

A “no” now doesn’t mean you’ll never get a raise. There are a number of reasons your employer could be more willing to give you a raise at a later date. Perhaps the company will have more wiggle room in the budget at the start of the new year, or maybe your manager believes you need to achieve more in your role before you have earned a higher salary.

“If your employer says they can’t provide an immediate raise but they’re open to a future one, draft new salary terms and put them in writing,” Smith-Proulx said. “Ask for a salary review and a potential percentage bump at a specified date — say, in three or six months — based on your performance against agreed-upon objectives or milestones.”

If You Get a Hard ‘No,’ Start Looking for a New Job

If your employer is unwilling to negotiate, that’s a strong sign you should start looking for a new job.

“If your request for a raise is rejected, you have a few options,” said Vicki Salemi, a career expert with Monster. “The one that will likely yield the results you’re seeking is to immediately start looking for a new job externally. Evaluate companies the same way they’re evaluating you. Interview from a position of power by paying close attention to red flags during the interview process, learn about the company culture as you’re building rapport with the interviewers, and do research such as seeing how well known they are in the industry and the latest developments in their company as a whole.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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