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When To Take a Promotion Without a Raise

Take a promotion without a raise

You walk into a meeting with your boss, not knowing what to expect, but hoping that this meeting will finally be the one where you are recognized for your hard work. In return, you receive that bonus you’ve been dreaming of. The conversation begins, and all seems to be going well until your boss offers you the promotion, but ends there. A promotion with no raise? Is that even a promotion? Take a breath. There was no way you could have prepared for a promotion without a pay raise, right? Wrong. There are many reasons to consider taking a promotion without a raise and our recruiters are offering their advice should you find yourself in this situation.

Why was the raise withheld?

There is likely a solid reason as to why a raise was not included as part of your promotion. Maybe salary increases are given only at certain times during the year or it was a decision from upper management, you won’t know until you ask. You could opt for a direct conversation with your manager or you could inquire with HR, but either way, be sure that the way you approach the subject is respectful. It's important to collect all the information in these situations so you can make an informed decision.

Sleep on it

Take a breath. As mentioned above, it is important to continue the conversation in a calm and professional manner. Set aside any negative thoughts and compose yourself. If you are feeling extra worked up, ask to take the night to sleep on the proposed promotion and regroup in the morning. Express your interest in the position, but also be sure not accept anything you may regret later down the road. Taking the time to think about the offer on the table will give you the opportunity to think about what you like about the promotion as well as what opportunities it will allow you in the future.


When it comes to a promotion, salary isn't the only thing on the table. If it turns out your company is having a tough year and salary increases are frozen, there are many aspects of the employment proposition to negotiate outside of compensation. Will you have the chance to lead a team in your new role? Will your schedule be more flexible? Is there opportunity for travel down the line or additional perks? What about opportunities to upskill? Think of your long-term career goals and how you might be able to achieve them more quickly by taking the promotion, regardless of salary.

Accepting the promotion as is

Once you've talked to your manager and negotiated what you can, you may find that the promotion without the raise is still a win. While, a few extra dollars in your paycheck would be nice, the new experience you'll be gaining and new title will help you achieve your career goals long-term. Take advantage of the new promotion and learn as much as you can while you're there. Then, when the time for a raise comes, you will have proof of your contribution to the company and be in an even better position to negotiate an increase. If it turns out the promotion isn't what you thought it would be, the new title and responsibilities will help with your next job search.

For more resources on navigating the job market succeeding in your career, click here.