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How to React to Low Promotion Offers

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Promotions typically bring promises of a good pay raise, a new title and other perks associated with moving up the corporate ladder. If you're in line for a promotion and your boss makes a lowball offer, you have to decide if the minor bump in status and salary is worth the additional workload and responsibility.

Evaluate the Offer

Express your appreciation for the promotion and ask your boss for time to consider the offer. Request terms in writing so you can compare the duties of the new position to what you're currently doing. Take into consideration new time commitments and responsibilities and decide if the additional compensation that's offered is proportionate to the extra work you’ll do. For example, if you'll be making an extra $25 a week for a much heavier workload, it might not be worth it.

Counter the Offer

Give your boss a counteroffer for a higher salary if you feel the bump in pay is too low for the extra workload. Point out the added responsibilities of the new position. Provide facts and figures about salaries for similar positions in your geographic area, and even at your own company if you have that information. A good source for this information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor, which provides salary and work data on more than 800 occupations. Reiterate the factors that make you a good candidate for the promotion, such as special skills or experience. Decide in advance the figure you're willing to settle on to take the promotion.

Ask for Perks

If your boss isn't willing to budge on salary, negotiate other perks and terms. You might be able to negotiate extra vacation days, company profit sharing or the opportunity to create a flexible schedule that lets you set your own hours or telecommute from home on certain days.

Decline the Promotion

If you ultimately decide the cons outweigh the pros of accepting the position, politely and professionally decline the promotion offer. Thank your boss again for the opportunity. Emphasize your commitment to your current position and your interest in future promotional opportunities. Be aware that your boss might be temporarily resentful or disappointed that you turned down the promotion. You can ease his frustration by performing your job at an even higher level and maintaining a positive and enthusiastic attitude.

Accept the Promotion

If you accept the promotion, you'll have to let go of the fact that it wasn't the big move and pay raise you wanted. Make efforts to quickly acclimate to your new role and begin making notable contributions. Embrace your new responsibilities to demonstrate to management your value and worth to the company. This will help you position yourself for a bigger bump in the future.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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