Professional Development

7 harsh reasons you haven’t gotten a raise

Written by Peter Jones

You’ve been loyal, put in the time, done your best work, kissed the appropriate amount of derriere. Why, then, you ask, have you yet to get that raise or get promoted? Your last performance review doesn’t show any reasons why you shouldn’t be moving up the ladder. You work hard and you deserve it? Right! Well, maybe.

But there are several reasons why you might not be getting the nod. Take a quick step back from the situation and see whether any of these possible impediments apply to you before freaking out or destroying the office printer with a baseball bat.

1. You didn’t ask.

This seems obvious, but it’s probably the number one reason people don’t get promoted or don’t get the extra pay they’re sure they deserve. It might feel uncomfortable to do it, but you have to make your needs known. If you don’t ask outright, your company is unlikely to just offer you extra money or a rung up the ladder. Arm yourself with some examples of your demonstrated value to the company, take a deep breath, and make your request.

2. You weren’t properly prepared.

Or maybe you did ask, but didn’t come in armed and prepared to defend yourself with evidence and a proper request. If you can’t list your accomplishments and prove your value to your boss, she’s not likely to agree to give you more. Bottom line: be prepared with statistics about your field and examples of your own accomplishments.

3. You’re not enough of a team player.

You may be killing it as far as your responsibilities go, but are you reaching out and making it about the team and not just yourself? Your performance itself might be stellar, but you could easily lose out on a promotion because you’re only doing your job well, and not thinking enough about the team.

4. You made it personal.

Instead of focusing on and honing the argument for why you really deserve this raise based on your work, you made it about personal reasons. Next time you ask, think about step #2 and go in with a slew of facts and figures to support your request. Show off your accomplishments, pull out market research. Really dazzle.

5. Your value stagnated.

You might be crazy valuable, but if your value isn’t steadily improving with time, that still counts as not being valuable enough for that raise or promotion. Try taking a class or getting a new certification or skill and trying again. Expand your range and responsibilities so you can demonstrate the curve of your efforts.

6. Your company is strapped.

It might not be you at all. It could be office politics (in which case, learn to play that game ASAP) or it could be that your company just plain can’t afford it. Or perhaps your manager doesn’t have the bandwidth to advocate for you.

If there is company dysfunction afoot, there are things you can fix and things you can’t. Try to figure out what your future prospects might be at this company. Talk to your boss. If you’re going to stagnate for years, maybe start looking around for other, higher paying opportunities elsewhere. Make sure you’re being appreciated!

7. You don’t deserve it.

There’s always the risk that your perceptions of your own performance and value are just a little bit different from how others perceive you or the reality of the situation. In this case, try to systematize your value and see what you find out. Compare yourself across the industry, against your colleagues. Outline your accomplishments, then look them over with a cynical eye. Would you promote you? If the answer is no, make sure you get to work changing that answer.

About the author

Peter Jones