Seeking a promotion or raise is an important career step — though it’s often an intimidating one.
Ideally, your manager will reward you with a promotion or raise when the time comes, but if that time has passed and you’re left tapping your foot, maybe you should offer them a little nudge. After all, it never hurts to ask.
Before knowing whether or not your boss will give you a raise or promotion, you need to figure out how to ask first.
Now, you’ve followed all the necessary steps and you’ve asked for the promotion or the raise you believe you deserve. Your manager calls you in to talk and you’re met with a shake of the head: “Sorry, no.” Whatever you do, don’t panic. Yes, this response will feel like a punch to your soul and a hit to your delicate ego. You might feel disappointment, frustration, and even anger.
Yet, it’s important to keep yourself together and to recognize that this is a crucial time in your career.
Rather than storming out of your manager's office, take these proactive steps to help you qualify for that promotion or raise in the future.
1. Thank your manager
Take a minute to process what just happened and then swallow your pride. Now, genuinely thank your manager for taking the time to consider your request. After receiving the disappointing news, this won’t be the easiest thing to say, but it’s an important gesture that’ll likely mean a lot to them.
2. Ask for feedback
Although you might want to leave the room as soon as possible, stick around and ask your manager for feedback. This might add some salt to the already gaping wound, but soliciting feedback will show your manager that you’re forward-thinking; you’re ready to continue to grow and work even harder.
Make sure the feedback is concrete and that you can set actionable goals to overcome any setbacks. If he or she says you need to “do better work,” push for some details. What specific areas need more attention? What are some examples of ways you can improve?
3. Map out a plan
After leaving the meeting, try not to dwell on the negative news. Maybe you deserve a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine, but then it’s time to take proactive steps toward that promotion or raise you’re after.
With your manager's feedback, map out a plan for yourself. This doesn’t need to be a five-year plan. Rather, set some short-term goals you can accomplish within several months. What can you focus on improving? Are there any additional tasks you can add to your workload? How can you prove you’re capable and qualified?
When setting goals, try following the SMART method: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Setting realistic, specific goals is important, especially when you know exactly what you want your next step to be.
4. Keep tabs on your wins
There’s no need to document your every move, but try starting a brag book. This might be a small notebook you keep in your desk drawer or a Google document. It’s up to you; it doesn’t need to be pretty.
In your brag book, start logging your wins. Here are a few examples: You completed a big project well before deadline, you received positive feedback from a client, you organized a new research committee, you recognized a problem and solved it before anyone noticed it was a problem. Note that these examples are vague. You’ll want to include a few more details to help quantify your successes.
Make an effort to add to your brag book each month— or even each week. When it comes time to be considered for a promotion or raise again, revisit your brag book to remind yourself of your accomplishments.
5. Stay focused on yourself
It’s way too easy to start comparing yourself to your co-workers. How does Jack have a senior title when he’s late to work every single day? Why did Jill get the promotion when you clearly complete more assignments than her?
This, however, leads to rabbit holes of anger, frustration, and feelings of helplessness. After getting denied a promotion or raise, the only person you should focus on is yourself. If you need, lie low for a few days and simmer down. Whatever you do though, stay focused on yourself and your performance. Analyzing co-workers’ actions will be counterproductive.
6. Give yourself a pat on the back
Seriously — you deserve a pat on the back. It took courage to ask for that promotion or raise, but you did it and at least now you aren’t left in the dark. Instead, you’ve spent time taking a good look at your job and your performance and you’ve created clear steps to help you achieve your goals.
Try not to sweat it. Sure, it might feel slightly awkward when you bump into your manager at the coffee maker the next morning, but offer a smile to let them know it’s fine and that you’re moving forward.
7. Remember you have options
You should never quit a job because you were denied a promotion or raise. In fact, that’s definitely the wrong reason to quit your job.
But sometimes this punch to the gut will lead to clarity (albeit not immediately). Maybe you’d thrive better in a different work environment or in a different position altogether. There are always more opportunities out there, and sometimes that’s a nice thing to keep in mind.
Click on the following link for more advice on how to get ahead.
If looking for another job is the right option for you, spruce up your resume with a free resume critique from TopResume.