I was turned down for a pay increase. Now what?

I recently requested a raise and title review, since my job responsibilities have increased significantly. I was told my salary is fair and in range. How do I handle this situation? I love my job but this is affecting my morale. I know money is not everything, but it’s a big part of life, especially in the NY area.

Few workplace conversations cause more anxiety for employees than asking for a raise. You practice your pitch on your partner or in front of the mirror, going over and over it in your head, and despite all of that preparation and angst, you still get it wrong.

Show of hands — how many of you don’t feel that you should be making more money or don’t need more money? So if an employer based their decisions on that criteria, their business would likely go bankrupt soon.

There are two primary and compelling reasons why most employers will consider giving you a raise. First, that your value on the open market is greater than what you are currently being paid and the company doesn’t want to lose you, or that your compensation internally is not commensurate with your role, responsibilities and value relative to the company’s compensation structure (and the company doesn’t want to lose you.)

See what’s common in both situations? It is true that usually an increase in responsibilities and title comes with some compensation increase, but not always. Sometimes people are highly compensated for their current roles and the additional responsibilities bring their salary more in line with the company’s compensation structure. Sometimes companies evolve new roles with additional responsibilities that reflect current business and economic realities, so even though you have taken on more, if you were to leave and they had to hire someone new, it would be at the same or lower compensation than what you are getting.

If, despite making a good business case, the company still doesn’t agree, then your best recourse is to continue crushing it on the job (otherwise, you are only hurting yourself) and look for another job. At some point, your current employer may come around — or a new one will.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. Email your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.

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