"I followed all that great career advice about presenting to my boss how I add value and deserve a raise ... and she said no. She can't even give me a title increase. I feel humiliated. What do I do now? Do I have to look for a new job to save face?"
In the last year or so, America has reached awesome new levels of unemployment rates. The marketplace is full of people who made six-figure salaries and are now looking for jobs at the mall, at coffee shops, and restaurants. If you are looking for a job, you are competing against the biggest pool of applicants since the 1970s, and we all know that nothing good happened in the '70s.
Even though the economy is in the toilet and most employees are afraid to ask for anything extra at work, some of us actually believe in our worth and take our cases to our bosses. Unfortunately, our bosses don't always agree, or their hands are tied by the current economy, so here's what's next:
1. Say thanks.
Do thank your boss for the opportunity to present your case. Shake her hand, smile, and get back to work. You made your best effort, you demonstrated an important focus on your career, and you've shown your leadership team that you are interested and available for future opportunities.
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2. Keep it together.
Don't take this reaction personally, and don't feel rejected. Your boss told you that a promotion isn't in the cards, but the same can be said for millions of other Americans. No one is getting a raise or a promotion right now. It doesn't mean that your hard work and professionalism aren't appreciated and won't be recognized and rewarded in the future.
3. Prove your case.
Walk away from this experience determined to show your peers and colleagues that you have the company's best interests at heart. Jump back into the piles and projects that sit on your desk. Work with integrity. Approach each new assignment as yet another opportunity to make the case that you are ready for the next level. While she once might have taken it for granted, now you've put it into her head and she'll be acutely aware of your skills.
4. Shop around.
If you do feel rejected, underemployed or underappreciated by your organization, I suggest you get out there and start networking. Talk to companies who are hiring, meet other professionals in your field, and get involved in alumni associations or not-for-profit groups where you will meet successful and influential people.
5. Give it time.
Americans believe in capitalism, and it seems sensible to work hard and expect a promotion under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, employees aren't facing normal circumstances in America. My advice is straightforward and simple: Do the best job you can, be savvy about your career, and trust that your hard work will be rewarded in the future.
Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker and HR exec with Fortune 500 experience. She blogs at Punk Rock Human Resources.