You asked for a pay raise and it didn’t work out. Now what?

There are other ways to negotiate non-cash compensation with employers that don’t involve a raise in pay.

“Other alternatives to receiving a pay raise can include all sorts of things that work for both parties involved,” said Carol Klem, Master Career Counselor at Life Horizons (, an employment consulting firm in Atlanta, Ga.

“You can ask for more time off, you can ask for better benefits, you can pick a certain time where you would like to be scheduled. You will find that businesses are more willing to work with you within these parameters, rather than the traditional pay raise,” Klem explained.

Often small and new businesses run into problems giving raises, so an owner has to be willing to consider other options.

“Employers are always open to an alternative, and they will work with you,” said Felice McEuen, a senior personnel consultant for Avanti Staffing, Inc. (, in Chicago. “Women need to be willing to ask for these alternatives, without thinking that it’s just going to magically happen.”

The problem is that some women have trouble asking for what they want in the workplace, whether it’s a raise, a bigger bonus, addition time off or other compensation issues. One reason may be how they see themselves on the job.

When negotiating even an alternative to a pay raise, women often have a skewed view of their worth, said Lois P. Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, (Warner Business Books, 2004; $19.95).

“Women see everything as personal. When they go in to negotiate a raise or other options regarding a raise, they often confuse the person they are negotiating with as the primary parental figure in their life,” Frankel explained.

“Either they are going to be belligerent and make unrealistic demands because they used this tactic to get their way as a kid, or they are going to act like the good kid asking for permission to use the car,” she noted, adding that neither of these approaches work in the business world.

Frankel also added that men get this basic notion, and they rarely see business dealings as being personal. Men, she said, generally have a stronger sense of self-worth.

“Women almost always ask for permission to get a raise or they will ask what [their boss] thinks. Women need to lay-out in logical terms what would be appropriate in the marketplace and determine their legitimate worth to their employer, and assume equality,” she explained. “Women who don’t assume equality always negotiate from the one down position. This is a huge mistake.”

Frankel added that there is discrimination between the sexes when it comes to wages, but women do have control over how they interact with others and negotiate in the workplace. Acting like “nice girls” makes everyone assume women have little interest in achieving goals.

“My advice is to step fully into your adult goals. You’re women. Be cooperative and be caring. Be nurturing, but factor in more direct, honest, self-confident behaviors that will help you create balance in the workplace,” said Frankel.


To reach Lois Frankel, try her website