Congrats, you just got a "dry promotion" — no raise included


Is a workplace promotion really a promotion if it doesn’t come with a raise? The short answer is no, but that isn’t stopping a growing share of U.S. employers from offering workers what’s known as a “dry promotion.”

Also known as a no-raise promotion, a dry promotion is when a worker gets an upgraded title and more job responsibilities, but without an upgrade in compensation. The trend isn’t new, but tends to resurface when the economy falters, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article noting that the number of employers offering people new job titles in lieu of commensurate raises has increased 5% since 2018, to 13% in 2024.    

Like a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol, dry promotions lack the heady ingredient that most clearly signals how much a business values an employee — money. So how should workers respond when their boss asks them to take on a greater role without also getting a bump in salary?

“They should reply by negotiating — negotiating and negotiating,” Ray Smith, the Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the piece, told CBS News. “And, basically, they can say, ‘OK, I’d like to do this, I’d like to take this on, but can we talk about a salary increase? Or can we revisit the issue of a salary increase in three months if it’s not possible now?”

Women tend to feel greater pressure than men to accept a dry promotion and often don’t take up the issue with their managers, Smith said, citing job coaches.

“Women just tend to feel like they need to say yes to this promotion because they’re either not going to get another one, or another opportunity, or they don’t feel like they have the right or the confidence to negotiate or to stand up for themselves and say, ‘I deserve more because you’re giving me more responsibilities and you’re asking me to take these additional responsibilities on, and it’s not fair…” he said. 

Two-thirds of female professionals think their salaries are unfair, according to a recent survey by Glassdoor that also noted that women at every level of education earn 20% less than their male counterparts for doing similar jobs. 

Are there advantages?

Judging from comments on Reddit in reaction to a thread called “Promotion but no salary increase,” most people view dry promotions as unfair. But even without a salary increase, there can be benefits to a dry promotion, Smith said, sometimes giving employees a shortcut to a bigger role and, ultimately, higher pay. 

“You can stay with the company and [let] it sort of give you goodwill because they think you’re a team player,” Smith said. “You get to network, you have this bigger title, you get to meet people you might not necessarily meet if you were in your lower position — so it’s a chance to network and maybe get higher faster.”

And if it doesn’t lead to any of those things, employees can at least come away with a higher-level title and perhaps a wider range of experience, which could lead to opportunities with another employer.

“You can sort of put that on your Linkedin or on your resume as you got this title and maybe you didn’t get the money now, but that puts you in the marketplace,” Smith said. “Recruiters will see that, other companies will see that, so it’s a chance for you to have better opportunities and get what you’re worth somewhere else.”



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