You Planned, Asked, But Didn’t Receive a Raise…What Now?

Kim Martin
2 min readFeb 2, 2023

You’ve done all the right things in your role over the last year. You’ve also handled your annual review well — controlled your emotions, actively listened, and remained curious while hearing feedback on your performance. Great news, the feedback from your boss was very positive, and you even asked for a raise; however, you are only getting a cost of living increase. Yikes! No doubt you are pretty disappointed.

Now what?

Step 1: While you may be upset that you are not getting a raise, don’t let your emotions grow to anger — keep a good attitude. The true test of a great employee and future leader is how you handle bad or challenging news. Think of this as a way to strengthen your resilience and adaptability.

Step 2: Ask your boss clarifying questions to understand why you are not getting a more substantial, or any, raise. Is there a performance “opportunity” or skill you need to work on that would allow you to receive a raise if mastered? Under what circumstances is there a potential to receive a raise or a promotion? Is it possible your boss avoids providing genuine feedback? Does the company have some financial challenges? You need to know the reason to determine your next step.

Step 3A: If you love your job, feel you still have much to learn, and would like to find a way to make it work, then it’s time to get creative. Are there other “perks” that could substitute for the raise that would deliver value to you, such as additional education, more vacation days, your own office, a title change, etc.? You get the idea — what would allow you to stay in the role, fully engaged and happy, that offsets the raise you will forgo?

Step 3B: If you need a raise financially or for your self-respect and career plan, it is time to start looking for your next opportunity. You’ve had a good run and are proud of what you’ve done. You have a list of accomplishments to use in marketing yourself for your next role. Hopefully, you’ve developed a network of colleagues in your industry that you connect with regularly. It’s time to let them know you are open to a new role. Consider this a jumping-off point to get you closer to your goals.

Remember, you’re still on the right path!

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Kim Martin

A thought leader in the areas of executive leadership, change management, and women in the C-suite.