How To Make A Promotion Without A Raise Work For You
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How To Make A Promotion Without A Raise Work For You

It’s a situation that’s more common than you might think: You’ve been working at a company for a while, have taken on more responsibilities, and are confident you’re up for a promotion. You’ve even prepared your pitch for that meeting you set with your boss to talk about your “role at the company.” You’re prepared to outline the very real reasons you deserve to be in a higher pay grade and have a job title that reflects your current job duties, not the ones you held when you signed your new hire paperwork. The only problem is: Your boss tells you there’s no room in the budget for a salary raise, and they can only offer you a promotion but no raise. It’s not that you don’t deserveit, your boss says. It’s that, truly, while the work you’ve been doing is excellent, salary reviews happen only once a year, and this is not the right time. It’s at this point that you’re left feeling dejected and ready to walk out of the office with slumped shoulders, but—wait!

Not only can you (and should you) take it up with them again at review time but you almost forgot about negotiating that outdated job title you still have. Yes, that meager-sounding job title that in no way accurately reflects the scope of the job you’ve been doing for the past six months after Nancy left the office and you assumed all her responsibilities on top of your own. That job title.

After some back-and-forth, your boss agrees with you that “PR assistant,” doesn’t capture the scope of your current duties and the two of you settle on “public relations strategist” as your new title and role at the company. Congrats! You’ve just earned yourself a promotion in title.

Even so, when a change in your job title occurs with a promotion but no raise, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Isn’t that the definition of being, well, underpaid?Often, yes. That said, upgrading your job title at a company still has many benefits that will undoubtedly help your career—and net worth—in the long run. Here’s why getting a change in a job title has its own merits:

It’s a sign that your boss—and a lot of other people—are happy with you

Think of it this way: Your boss thinks you’re so capable an employee that you’ve been entrusted with added responsibilities. If you were doing a crummy job in your current role, no manager would let you near that important company project. Nor would your boss find it worthwhile to formalize your new duties with a job title promotion. Doing so means that not only your boss thinks highly of you, but also likely your boss’ boss, since they have to get it approved by HR.

Doing your job is easier thanks to the added gravitas

If you’re in a client-facing role, getting an upgraded job title grants you an added layer of gravitas that can make doing your job easier. This is because a job title is also indicative of where you stand in the hierarchy of the company. If you’re a director now, instead of an associate, how others within and outside the company perceive you will change for the better.

Another promotion or raise could be on the horizon

Just because you didn’t get a salary raise this time around doesn’t mean that your boss has completely ruled out the possibility. In fact, depending on the timeline of your job title promotion, your boss could be laying the groundwork for that salary promotion in the following six months, since some companies have certain pay scales dependent on job titles. Even if this isn’t the case, you still have a new opportunity to use your new title to outline new goals and metrics for success. This can prove fruitful for you when you revisit the issue again when the company does salary reviews.

Recruiters and hiring managers will look favorably upon you

If, down the line, the company you’re with still doesn’t grant you a salary hike that’s in accordance with your new role, then it might be time to move on. If that’s the case, the silver lining is that other recruiters and hiring managers will look favorably upon your resume. Being promoted at work paints a positive picture of your capabilities and how much a company trusts and invests in you. Finally, you’re always much more likely to land a job for a role that has the same (or similar-sounding) job title as your current role. And with that new job, you can better negotiate a higher starting salary.