What To Do If You're Offered a Promotion Without a Raise

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The best possible circumstance is when your manager offers you a promotion accompanied by a raise that’s even larger than you expected. But that’s not always how promotions work. Employers don't always provide extra pay along with a promotion. What should you do when you’re offered a promotion without any increase in your salary or hourly pay?

The situation may be more common than you realize. According to staffing firm OfficeTeam, 39% of employers commonly offer a promotion without a raise. What should you do if it happens to you?

Review advice on what to consider if you're offered a promotion without a raise, along with tips on the best options for handling it.

Key Takeaways

  • Whether it comes with or without a raise, a promotion is generally beneficial to your career in the long term and a sign that your company values your work. 
  • Even if you’re not offered a raise with your promotion, you do have the option to ask for one, inquire about other benefits, negotiate a pay increase, or ask for a salary review at a later day.
  • Before you decide what to do, take the time to research what similar jobs pay so you can make an informed decision.
  • You don't have to accept a promotion, but if you decline, you should do so professionally and politely.

The Benefits of a Promotion

First, let’s talk about what happens when you get a promotion. Typically, you’ll get a better title and additional responsibilities. With a promotion, you may get to work on more interesting projects, or ones that are more important to the bottom line. Or, you may begin to manage people or projects.

This can be good news for your career. With a higher-level title, you’ll be able to do the following: 

  • Grow your skills and experience.
  • Potentially have more visibility at the company.
  • Boost your resume by adding a new job and responsibilities.
  • Apply for more senior roles at other companies.
  • Show career growth to prospective employers.

A new (and better) job title has value beyond a pay increase. It shows career progression on your resume and LinkedIn, it can enhance your marketability, and it will position you to apply for higher-paying jobs in the future. These advantages may be precisely why 63% of employees would prefer to receive a promotion without a raise, as opposed to a raise without a promotion, per a Korn Ferry survey.


But there are some potential downsides to a promotion without a bump up in salary (aside from not getting additional money). 

You may feel resentful or taken advantage of, which isn’t very conducive to performing at your best. And, if the promotion leads to twice as much work, you may begin to feel burned out.

Why Companies Offer Promotions Without Raises

It can feel offensive to be offered a promotion without a raise, but that need not be the case. Here are some reasons companies may offer a promotion without a raise: 

  • It’s a sign you’re performing well. Sometimes, a promotion is a way for the company to let you know you’re doing a good job. 
  • You’ve already taken on the duties that accompany the title. You may organically have taken on the responsibilities of the new title. In other words, the title is new, but the work won’t change. 
  • The company doesn't have money in its budget. You may be doing a good job, but the company as a whole may not be performing well. So, in some cases, the employer may want to give you a raise, but can’t afford to do so.
  • Company policies. Perhaps your earnings are already at the top of the salary range for your current title and the proposed new title. Or, in some cases, companies have rigid guidelines around the timing of raises. It is, of course, also possible that the company is poorly run or that your manager isn’t a strong advocate. 


Keep in mind that sometimes a promotion comes without a salary raise, but it may deliver other benefits such as an annual bonus or additional vacation days.

What To Do When You’re Offered a Promotion Without a Raise

Ask Questions 

Are you feeling surprised or perhaps even offended by a promotion without a raise? While there is no need to share all your emotions with your manager or the HR representative who offered the promotion, do feel free to inquire about the company’s rationale. Ask about company policies regarding promotions and raises. That way, you can find out the why behind the offer. 

Remember, you don’t have to make an on-the-spot decision. As with a job offer, you can take some time. When you’re offered the promotion, it’s a good idea to start by expressing your appreciation for the offer. 

Then, you can ask, “When would you need a response?” Or, alternatively, you can say that you’ll need X days to think the offer over and discuss it with your family. 


You have every right to turn down the promotion, but to avoid harming your relationship with company management, you should do so very professionally and politely.

Research Compensation

You’ll want to research the salary levels for the title in general—that is, what people with this job title typically earn within your industry. Additionally, you can use salary research sites like Glassdoor and PayScale to find more information on what similar jobs pay. 

Also dig into how people with this title are paid at your specific company. This can be challenging, since people typically don’t want to share personal salary details, and it’s awkward to ask. However, some companies have pay transparency policies and share salary data.

Even having a general sense of the typical payment for this role—at your company and at others—can help you make a powerful case for why you deserve a raise as well as a title shift. 

Determine Your Next Steps

Your next steps depend on your particular situation and whether you find the company’s offer of a promotion without a raise justified or not. Some options include the following:

  • Take the offer as is. In some cases, this may make the most sense. After all, the title change may be helpful to your career in a long-term way, and you may feel that the company's reasons for not giving a raise are justified. 
  • Accept the promotion but ask about future pay increases. If you're glad to get the promotion and didn't expect a pay increase, you don't have to do anything but say "thank you." You may want to ask when you can expect a pay increase if you're taking on additional responsibilities.
  • Take the offer but ask to revisit your salary at a specific later date. Have an open conversation with your manager and be clear that you would like your salary to be reconsidered at a later time. If possible, set a timeline for when this salary reassessment will occur. 
  • Establish milestones. It can also be helpful to map out specific goals or milestones that would result in a raise. Ask your manager if that's an option and, if it is, get the details in writing.
  • Ask about other benefits. It can be helpful if you’re willing to take other compensation, aside from salary, such as more flexible hours, more paid time off, additional training, or additional support from other team members, for example.
  • Be prepared to negotiate. You can ask your manager if it's possible to discuss the offer. Arrive at the negotiation meeting prepared with information on how others in similar roles in your industry are paid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you be promoted without a pay raise?

Unless you're covered by an employment agreement or company policy that stipulates compensation, an employer isn't obligated to give an employee a pay raise when they are promoted.

How much is the average promotion salary increase?

A Mercer compensation planning survey reports merit increase budgets of 3.2% and total pay increase budgets (which include promotion awards) of 3.5% in 2022.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Robert Half, OfficeTeam. “More Companies Offering Promotions Without Raises -- And Many Workers Willing To Accept Them." 

  2. CQ: Korn Ferry. “Korn Ferry Survey: Two-Thirds Of Professionals Would Prefer a Promotion With No Raise Over a Raise With No Promotion In The New Year." 

  3. Mercer. "Compensation Is Going Up. But, Is It Enough?"

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