4 Things to Negotiate If You’re Denied a Pay Raise

Asking for a raise can feel like a daunting experience. But when you muster up the confidence and your request for a raise is denied, that can feel like a blow to your self-esteem and even leave you questioning your role at a company. Before you let that defeat set in, this is actually a time to dig a bit deeper and get what you want to benefit your career in the long run. 

“Being denied a raise is the beginning of the negotiation,” entrepreneur and women’s empowerment expert Heather Monahan said.


1. Go for instant gratification

Besides some of the obvious requests like additional vacation days and telecommuting, a few career experts weigh in on what other perks you can negotiate with your employer and how these might even be better than an immediate monetary increase in salary. 

Carla Isabel Carstens, New York City-based career coach, encourages new employees to ask for something that can be beneficial right away. “A signing bonus provides you with an immediate boost of cash, which can be useful to pay off any debt you may have or stash away in a savings account for a rainy day.” It doesn’t get any better than the instant gratification of a lump sum.


2. A new title can make all the difference

Also, for old or new employees, Carstens suggested discussing a change in title. This doesn’t have the immediate benefit of a perk like a signing bonus, but it’s absolutely vital for the long game.

“A boost in your title will be advantageous to a future job search and place you at a higher salary range,” Carstens, who specializes in helping young professionals and entrepreneurs achieve their goals, said. And Monahan, author of Confidence Creator, agreed. “Negotiating a job title is a smart option that will be beneficial to any junior employee given how much weight titles hold in corporate America.” The addition of words like manager, director, lead, or senior will look great on your resume or LinkedIn profile. “It costs your company nothing,” Monahan said, but it can lead to better opportunities, increased visibility, and eventually a higher salary at your current or future job.


3. Think in terms of professional development

Another perk you can negotiate comes in the form of educational reimbursements and continuing education. Even if you don’t want to enroll in school for a two or four-year degree, ask if your employer will pay for a certificate, training, or even a professional membership that gives you access to lectures. 

Roshawnna Novellus did just that and it’s what helped her launch EnrichHER, a company that creates opportunities and funding for women-led businesses. 

“When I worked for a consulting firm, I asked the CEO if he’d pay for an executive certification in Risk Management. He agreed in writing. This certificate enabled me to enhance my knowledge and marketability.” Her employer paying for 100 percent of the certificate not only saved her money, but even made her more money in the long run. 


4. Find a mentor

Finally, a major part of succeeding in any career involves finding the right mentor or sponsor

Though most mentor-mentee relationships develop organically, Monahan said it’s a non-monetary perk that can and should be negotiated. Actually, it will likely be worth more than the raise you initially asked for. 

“Getting an executive you admire to commit one hour a week to your development can pay massive dividends to your career,” Monahan explained. “Having first-hand access to their knowledge, experience, guidance, and expertise can shape your entire professional trajectory.” 

That one-on-one time from a senior employee is invaluable. Not only will this person be able to provide guidance in your current workplace, if the relationship continues, you may have a career ally for years to come.  


All of the experts agree a denial of a raise shouldn’t be the end of a conversation. Though you want to enter the initial negotiation process hopeful you’ll receive your desired outcome, it’s also best to have a backup request like one of the above-mentioned perks.

“You should always be prepared with alternative solutions when negotiating a raise,” Carstens said, so you can respond in a timely manner—that may be a matter of days, the next quarter, or after the completion of a major project. 

Novellus, whose EnrichHER has helped business owners land close to $14 million in funding, according to the EnrichHER website, also stressed confidence. “When women negotiate, many times we don’t do it confidently. Even if you’re not confident about a successful outcome in the negotiation, pretend, to give yourself the best chance at success.”