Salary Increase Rejected? Don't be Afraid of Headwinds!

April 22, 2024

5 strategies on what to do now

I finally plucked up all my courage and asked my boss for a pay raise - and what was the answer? "I'm terribly sorry, but you already earn the maximum for this position, there's really nothing more you can do salary-wise". I can't believe it, when I know for a fact that someone else in the company in a comparable position earns significantly more than me. Should I argue this right away, or should I be satisfied with the rejection of my salary increase?

Salary increase rejected? What can you do now? Image: created in ChatGPT with DALL E
Salary increase rejected? What can you do now? Image: created in ChatGPT with DALL E

First of all, it is probably never a good idea to compare your salary with that of your colleagues. And as in any type of negotiation, don't let your negative emotions take control. But what do you do if your salary negotiation turns out differently than planned?

Let's start by mentioning that different strategies are suitable in this situation. We will present 5 strategies that will help you if your request for a salary increase has been rejected.

5 Strategies if Your Salary Increase Has Been Rejected

1. Try to understand your manager's position

React with astonishment and say that your own market research has encouraged you to ask whether you will get a pay raise, because you are sure that the company does not want to pay more, but also not less than the market value. Then ask what needs to be done together with your managers to redefine the content and salary of your responsibilities. By doing so, you signal that you are in the same boat and want to work together towards the desired goal of a pay raise.

2. Be sure of the support of your employer

Your performance is decisive for a salary increase. Encourage your superiors to recognize your good performance and your contribution to the company's success during the salary negotiation. In the best-case scenario, they will confirm your role as one of the key players on the team. This will create a solid basis for an argument in favor of your salary increase.

3. Work together to develop alternatives

Find out together whether the next career step or new challenges and the associated salary increases are possible anyway.

In order to substantiate the logic of the next career step, it is important to show executives in which areas you have already taken on more responsibility and what added value you have brought to the company beyond your normal job description. Ideally, you should demonstrate this with the right arguments - i.e. using facts and figures.

Such an interview is also a good opportunity to consider alternatives if a further promotion is no longer technically possible, e.g. because the hierarchies in the company are too flat. How could your salary increase anyway? You could ask about alternatives to a salary increase.

Our advice: What additional services or benefits does your company offer? If a higher salary is not feasible within the next year, you could ask your managers how they feel about financing part-time training, for example. After all, your know-how will benefit the company.

What other things does your company offer, aside from a salary increase? What benefits exist? Image: shutterstock, The Studio
What other things does your company offer, aside from a salary increase? What benefits exist? Image: shutterstock, The Studio

Be sure to record the appointment in writing and have further steps confirmed. Salary negotiations of this kind usually don't just consist of one meeting, but of a longer process that requires perseverance to reach the goal.

4. Take a breather, take out your emotions and throw the ball back

For employees who are completely shocked and speechless after being turned down for a pay raise, it is probably better to take a short artificial pause, take a deep breath, get yourself under control and kindly say that you first need to recover from this unexpected message.  Nevertheless, you should emphasize that you are willing to find a solution together and would like to arrange another meeting on the subject of salary.

It is also a good idea to ask your superior to question the market value of your own position again in the meantime, because your own research would have shown a clearly different picture and you would like to compare it. Ideally you should also ask your boss to think about possible promotion opportunities or new challenges within the company that could justify a salary increase.

5. Take a chance on a new start

Your request for a salary increase was rejected? Try again! However, it is particularly important to be sure of the support and good assessment of superiors first, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to argue for a higher salary.

And the same applies in this new discussion: prepare arguments for a salary increase, consider strategies together and explore alternatives.

Conclusion: How You Can Still Get a Salary Increase After All

If you are reading our 5 strategies and would prefer to avoid a tough struggle for the salary increase you want, you should not forget how much self-confidence you gain with each round of negotiations. On the other hand, you should also remember that your superiors are not your opponents. We can assure you that your employer does not want to lose their top performers - after all, they would often have to spend a long time searching the market for nearly good candidates and, in many cases, replace them at an even higher cost.

Also remember that a successful salary negotiation is not just a question of money, but also a recognition of your achievements and position in the company. It's a good time to emphasize your value and advance your career goals. And above all, don't be discouraged, even after an initial rejection of the salary increase!

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