Got Rejected for a Raise? Here’s What You Can Do

Got Rejected for a Raise? Here’s What You Can Do

One of the main reasons why people pursue an MBA is to bump up their salary. Starting salaries for MBAs can land well above $150K, and that’s not including sign-on bonuses.

But asking your boss for a salary bump can be scary. And sometimes, your plans of asking for a raise can even get shut down. Melody Wilding, an executive coach and author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work, recently offered advice on what you can do if you ask for a raise and things don’t go as planned.


Getting rejected never feels good. But, Wilding says, it’s important to give yourself time to process your feelings while also responding diplomatically to the rejection. Here’s an example of how to do that:

“Thank you for sharing that. Not surprisingly, I’m disappointed that the company won’t be able to honor my request. Nevertheless, I’m committed to bringing my best to the organization and hope to continue the conversation about how I can be an even more valuable contributor.”

Wilding says this response should express appreciation, as well as resilience.

“You’ve also opened the door for a follow up conversation to discuss compensation in the future,” Wilding says.


If you’re rejected for a raise, it can be helpful to understand the rationale behind that rejection. Wilding recommends asking your boss open-ended questions such as the following:

What’s contributing to your decision?

How are compensation and performance evaluated?

What could I be doing more of?

“Getting more information can help guide your decision whether to stay and advocate for yourself — or to create an exit plan and focus your energy on a new role where you’ll be more valued,” Wilding says.


One of the best ways to land a raise is to demonstrate your growth and progress. This might be presenting a case study to executives, or even pursuing continued education or an extracurricular.

“Another simple strategy is to kick off one-on-ones with your boss by reviewing recent wins,” Wilding says. “It’s an organic way to make sure they’re regularly updated on your successes. Be sure to frame your progress in terms of how it positively affects your clients or organization overall — not just how it makes you look good.”

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

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