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Promotion with no job title change and no salary change

Dear Office Politics,

What is your opinion of how best to handle this situation:

A company I have been working for offers me a “promotion” in work duties with no job title change and no salary change. For example, I went from being an admin. assistant to managing an entire department that is critical to operations. They wouldn’t give me a title change or an increase in salary, but they expected me to take on all this extra responsibility and stress. This has happened to me twice at this company, and I have asked for title change and salary adjustment, but they wouldn’t give me one.

Should I have just said “No thanks, I’ll stick with the job I have?” Can I actually say that without getting fired, or is that considered “insubordination” or “unwillingness to do work assigned to me.”

I am concerned about the fact that employers can justify asking employees to do basically anything by saying “other projects as needed” or “other duties as determined by manager” or something similar in the job description, but a change of this magnitude seems abusive.

I wanted to move ahead at work and thought that doing as they asked and giving 150% would show what a great worker I am and how talented I am and how valuable I am, but it only seems to have shown them how much they can use me and not pay me. After heading up two major departments, I have tapped out all the upward mobility opportunities the company has to offer (it is a small company) The only positions above me are GM and President, so I have moved as far as I can with no salary increase to show for it. I am tired of being treated this way (yes, I am looking for another job) and I don’t want to be in the same situation again.

What is your recommendation on how to navigate a delicate situation like this in a way that will keep me from ending up in the same boat at a new job?


Just Rewards

susan bulkeley butler

Dear Just Rewards,

Good luck on your job search. In your preparation, I would suggest that you adequately demonstrate on your resume the roles and responsibilities you have had in your current company–and that you will be able to get a recommendation letter that will support these talents and responsibilities. If they are unable to provide a letter, I would suggest that you understand why this is a problem.

In preparing for you new career, I would suggest you determine what your goals are, what positions best reflect your abilities and potential, the career opportunities you are looking for, and what industry will be able to use your skills and interests the best, before you start sending out resumes. This will help you to focus your resume and your cover letter. And who do you know that will help you get the position of your dreams? I could look for someone who will be able to open doors for you and provide you feedback on your documents.

Additionally, I would suggest that you discuss these career related items in your interview. One of my secrets is: Ask for what you want. And then, once you have your position, I would begin conversations with your supervisor about career opportunities (i.e., length of time, positions/roles necessary to demonstrate your capabilities).


Susan Bulkeley Butler
Author, Become the CEO of You, Inc.
Your Virtual Mentor

Dear Office-Politics (Susan),

I thought your tips on job searching were very helpful and always good to hear. However, I am still not quite sure how to navigate the delicate situation of bosses/companies that pile more and more on me with no extra compensation.

I am uncertain as to how I could address/investigate this issue with a company in an interview without sounding like a complainer or a slacker, or a bad apple…none of which I actually am.

I am guessing that this is the kind of thing no company representative in their right mind would talk about with a potential new employee, even if they do it to their employees regularly. And I don’t think I could ask current employees at the company I am applying for without either receiving misrepresentation or putting my opportunity for a position there in jeopardy. Companies always want to give the impression that they are a wonderful organization and a great place to work, even when they are not. I discovered that my employer vastly misrepresented several things in the interview. With all of that in mind, I am now in a place where my hard work-ethic has been greatly abused. I don’t ever want to have this happen again.

So, with the idea in mind that no company will probably let on that excessive work-dumping without compensation occurs, even if it is a common practice there, I guess my question comes down to this: How do I protect myself in my next job, or the job after that, to keep this from happening again? I am sure it must be related to the fact that I was WILLING to do 150% and 200% when other people were doing 30% (I was trying to get ahead and thought that proving myself valuable would do it). But it is not that I didn’t request compensation…I did many times. They are always crying poor (which is actually another issue — poor management of the business and gross mismanagement of money — they have a few high level executive types on staff who don’t actually come in to the office more than for a few hours every few months. They don’t telecommute or produce anything at all. They have been there for a long time though… so other people are now doing their actual jobs/work, but they are still being paid for it anyway. Very hard on company morale. A lot of angry people here).

Also, I honestly think my boss is intimidated by me. When I tried to give her estimates of how operations would progress in a project she had assigned me, she yelled at me and said I needed to “get some perspective” and told me “Out of all the places I have ever worked, you are the most DIFFICULT person I have EVER worked with” because she didn’t like the fact that work takes time and I couldn’t magically create 60 hours of work in 40 hours… even though I was already doing what used to take 4 other people (who, granted, didn’t work to potential) 160 hours of work before she tacked on this project. She did LOVE, however, the girl before me who acted like her best buddy and talked about shoes and purses and fashion with her all day. That girl got EVERYTHING she wanted, but never really did much actual work at all.

My boss constantly hands all the new labor to me, and has redistributed labor from 4 employees that were “downsized” all to me, while letting another co-worker, who isn’t working up to potential, take on nothing new. When I have suggested distributions of labor that would allow us to be more productive, she always blows me off and dumps it all on me anyway. There is no real upper management above her… just the president, who is of retirement age and mostly absentee now.

So I recognize that I am intelligent and hyper-productive, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. If they won’t give me a raise, what power do I have to protect myself? Is there some way I can refuse to take on all this extra stuff unless they pay me? Some nice “political” way of dealing with that and getting what I want? If I won’t be paid, I don’t want to take on any more responsibilities. Especially if they have made it clear they won’t pay me (ever) no matter how far I “advance” or how much I take on. I am afraid that if I try to say “no” to their dumping, they will claim that I refused to do my work — when I was actually already doing the work of four people! EEEK!

If there is no safe way to refuse, how do I need to change my behavior to discourage dumping while still showing them how valuable I am. This is what I am really afraid of and confused by. I don’t know how to work with that/around that. I find it quite baffling. Thanks!! And thanks for keeping my anonymity… it would be very embarrassing for my company (and thus bad for me) if people found out how they ran their ship.

Look forward to your advice.

Just Rewards

susan bulkeley butler

Dear Just Rewards,

This is such an interesting situation and here are my thoughts.

I know some of this is repetitive from before, but I think logically and you are asking how NOT to get in the same position again.

When you are interviewing for a new career at another company, I would suggest the following:

1. Create your resume in a way that will support the position that you want (the one that you think you are doing but not getting paid for).
2. Identify the types of organizations that you believe you want to work for and has such a position. You need to do research before the interview
3. During the interview, you should ask questions about the roles and responsibilities for the position; the career paths, salary increases, etc. within the organization.. (Note: we all have to work hard, and we need to take on new responsibilities in order to demonstrate that we can handle the responsibilities of the position that we want. If these are additional responsibilities, then you need to find someone to delegate your current responsibilities to or ask for help in prioritizing what is already on your plate. The new responsibilities are hopefully getting you ready for a new position which would perhaps mean more money, but in your current situation there was no money and only more responsibilities.)
4. Talk to others in the organization about their roles/responsibilities, etc., but not necessarily bring up the issue that you have experienced. There are ways to ask questions that might provide insights about the culture of the organization and how they treat their people.

We all have to be professional in how we handle these types of experiences. My mentor told me that we need to be able to get along with all types of people. If this is an untenable situation, perhaps it is time to “get off of this train” and get on to another one. And it’s important to not impair getting a positive letter of reference if you decide to leave.

I am interested in your feedback.



Susan Bulkeley Butler
Author, Become the CEO of You, Inc.
Your Virtual Mentor

  1. 8 Answers to “Promotion with no job title change and no salary change”

  2. Hello, Office Politics!

    I wrote the letter titled “Promotion with no job title change and no salary change ”

    I thought I should follow up on what is happening lately with my job situation. Perhaps the information here will be helpful to others. It may help people see what early signs of problems can lead to.

    I am still in my current job due to the fact that no other suitable position has opened and been offered. I have had two interviews. In one, the person told me up front that I was overqualified and that the figure I requested for salary was “in the range” (and my figure is not high or unreasonable) and then proceeded to try to talk me down by $15,000. Obviously, not the job for me and a possible “frying pan” after the “fire” I am already in. The other job I interviewed for wanted me to be called “assistant” and pay in that range, but then tried to tack on a bunch of high-level managerial duties that were not in the original job description (basically like what I have now) for the same pay. That is too much like my current job for my comfort level. They also wanted to severely underpay me and couldn’t get close to my salary expectations so I turned them down. The job market here is so bad (unemployment almost twice the national average) that there have been no other interviews or offers. I am thinking of moving, it is so terrible.

    All that aside, things at my current job have progressed from bad to worse. As you know, my company has fired several people and given me all their work. No raise. No removal or/delegation of previously held duties to even out the load, despite my requests. In addition to the fact that I am now performing 5 people’s jobs, my boss has been adding large ongoing projects (no end date…just an extra addition to regular operations) onto my load as well. My boss does not want me to work overtime because the company does not want to pay me, so I have been keeping my boss apprised of my progress and informed about the tasks I am unable to complete due to the workload and time constraints. When she added another huge ongoing project to my load last year, I asked her how I should handle the fact that there are more duties than hours in the day and she screamed at me and told me to “get some perspective” and that I was “the most difficult person [she] had ever worked with in her entire life.” She then tried to work out how I could accomplish all the tasks in the limited time and couldn’t come up with a solution (because there just is no way to fit them all in) and said that I should continue to ask her for my priorities.

    That was the first screaming episode that I remember. The short of it is that I have been asking her for my priorities, per her request, for the past 6 months. The screaming episodes have been occurring more and more often and sometimes are in private and sometimes in public. Though I am her favorite target and receive the brunt of her rage, I am not the only one she has screamed at. She is losing control here and taking it out on others. There basically is no higher management than her. She finally accused me a few weeks ago of not doing my job (though it is really several people’s jobs) despite the fact that I had been focusing on the priorities SHE gave me. She also (in the same week) sent an e-mail basically berating me for asking her all the time for my priorities when I should be able to figure them out for myself (even though she had told me 6 months ago that I was to ask her for my priorities). She doesn’t have enough staff to cover all the duties in my department and is taking it out on me.

    To add fuel to the fire at my poisonous workplace, there is a co-worker (we’ll call her Pam) who started taking steroids about a year and a half ago for a medical condition. Upon starting this medication, Pam’s already hostile tendencies exploded. She now regularly and loudly slams her phone, doors and objects on a variety of surfaces. She stomps through the hallway like she is on the warpath. Pam has verbally berated other coworkers (who have, in turn, complained about her aggressive and hostile behavior to management) and she has cursed at me. Pam’s behavior escalated two weeks ago when she physically shoved me in the hallway. This caused a muscle spasm in my back for which I saw a doctor and received treatment (and the Dr. has it documented). I reported it to management immediately, who later said that Pam claimed it was an accident (which I can tell you it certainly was not) and management excused her behavior because she is “ill” and they are “very concerned about her physical health” and implied to me that it was my fault for not “stay[ing] out of her way” and that this was a “personal problem”—not the BATTERY that it actually was. If it happens again I will go to the police. I have given my work the opportunity to handle the situation and they ignored it and shifted blame away from the responsible parties, so if it happens again I will take it to the police. The doctor’s office has a report about the injury sustained as a result of the incident.

    I didn’t start documenting the screaming incidents and things at first because I thought that it wouldn’t happen again (but it has…several times) or that things would get better if I could just find the magic way to please them. I have since started documenting everything (management, by the way, is not interested in the incident report I typed up regarding the shoving incident) but I do not have enough to make any kind of case…nor do I have the money to pursue legal action…nor will other current coworkers get involved in reporting any behaviors or abuses—and there are many (though some past workers might).

    The stress of all the horrible things that have been happening here over the years and especially over the past year has left me so stressed and anxious that I have been seeing a counselor for the past year. I have suffered (and am still suffering) many physical illnesses as a result of the stress. I have nightmares about being attacked at work. When I am at work lately, I am often in a cold sweat and my heart is racing. This leaves me exhausted and weak and more susceptible to viruses and bacteria (another part of my more frequent medical problems). I think about all these problems almost all the time when I am not at work and try to figure out ways to solve them.

    I have read books on bullying and basically have no recourse in this case because the organization is so small that the major abuser IS the only authority, I live in a state with “at will” termination, I have no money to pay a lawyer, I can’t just quit unless I have another job that pays the same or better, and I have not been keeping enough records for long enough to really prove anything.

    I think it is important for people to know that little behaviors shown earlier (like not paying employees appropriately, not promoting them but dumping several people’s jobs on one person, blaming employees for bad management decisions, etc.) may be indicative of deeper issues and future problems that can become very severe and have a severe effect on mental and physical health. Also, this should be a lesson to everyone to document everything from the very FIRST time, no matter what. In fact, I would recommend making a habit of documenting everything even when you think things are good. Also, create a paper trail with management about your priorities and duties (which I am now doing) and get a job description at the BEGINNING of your employment and every time you change positions or get added responsibilites.

    I found out that this company has workers who have been here over 30 years who are only making just over $30,000…so there is a large history of underpaying and overworking employees (but many of them stay because they can’t find something else or fear that they can’t and therefore don’t try to leave).

    I hope people can see what my job has become and learn to recognize these hints of future problems for what they are and get out. I have been trying to get out for 2 years, so there ARE circumstances where employees may not be able to escape right away, but they need to start trying as soon as they see any of those (and other) early signs.

    By Just Rewards on Feb 21, 2007

  3. I’m in the same position. The changed my title but didn’t give me the salary. My ED keeps saying wait until January 09 well we are here now its that everyone is going to get the same raise a cost of living. Well EEOC says that I have a good claim if I want to persue it. An employer cannot make policy changes just to avoid giving someone a raise.

    Then there is the retaliation. EEOC doesn’t like that either. I have been reading alot of cases that they have won in 2007. I also found out that someone could file a charge on your behalf.

    By onewish on Jan 13, 2009

  4. From the first questions asked? no answer was given except more politics talk… how do you resolve his problem in Employment Laws? How would he bring those laws to their table, what is he going to do just give up quit his job and move to the next one, so this happens to him again. I really don’t understand how fixing the problem is resolved by changing jobs.?????

    By Carlos on Feb 19, 2010

  5. A long old thread here.
    I agree with Carlos from a couple months ago.
    In my situation, I’ve actually been told by the HR Sr. Mgr. that if I want more money, find a new job. Where are the Employment Laws?
    From everything I’ve found everywhere on the web, retaliation lawsuit (as mentioned above) is the only way you could get money, of course, you lose your job in the process.

    By Raymond J. Johnson Jr. on May 28, 2010

  6. I know this is an old thread but i have similar issues. I began working for a small clinic as an office manager. My duties and responsibilities rapidly increased and within two years I was doing everything a practice manager would do. The only problem is that I am expected to do all of this in 30 hours or less. I receive no benefits and wage is ok at best for the stress and responsibility. More recently my boss purchased a second clinic. I have been given the tasks and responsibilities for this clinic too. I was promised a fulltime salary but no actual number discussed. I was fine with this at first, thinking that my boss has me covered but needs some time during this crazy time to get all ducks in a row, my new salary chat included. I have been working now for two months at 40+ hours per week with still no salary chat and only allowed to pay myself (because I do all payroll) more than my original 30 hours per week. So I am literally working as practice administrator for two facilities but without the pay or title change. I don’t want to be pushy or seem unwilling to be a team player during this busy time but the job is so demanding and I feel taken advantage of. I should also mention that the national average pay for practice administrator is $54k/year. Should I be happy with this for running both facilities or should I negotiate more when/if I ever get my salary chat? I want the opportunity but fairly compensated too. Not sure how to approach my boss either because she often voices concern over the new “expenses”….the new facility is much larger therefore more costly to stock and upkeep. What is the best approach to my situation?

    By burned out on Nov 15, 2013

  7. @JustRewards

    It was so great to read your post! Some sections could have been written by me.
    Anyway, my boss´s boss always made promises and offers me a promotion twice but was actually not even allowed to make such decision. His boss, so the very high management, was not amused about his behavior of decided things like this on his own and declined his request to promote me.
    Best part was, that he felt so comfortable telling me that he cannot keep his promises + some other employees already resigned and he had trouble to get new people on board + he knew that i do care to much about doing my job perfectly so i would always do what it takes to get all work done properly (of course in unpaid overtime), so that he just left gave me the tasks and then just totally “forgot” and postponed he final changes in my contract regarding job title and raise.

    So one time he “promoted” me to his executive assistant (upper management level), without salary raise or new job title + the “old” tasks still on my desk.
    One year later the same story again: I got “promoted” to a Sales Management position.
    Awesome! I was happy to get such a great opportunity.
    He said i should keep on doing my old tasks additionally only for a temporary time period until they find a new one who can replace me and take over my old job.
    I can tell you, they did not even start looking for a replacement and had no intention to give me raise or the job title.

    I really like my job…or lets say my jobs..but the fact to be treated totally unfair (i get the lowest salary in the whole company but both new jobs are each at a 40% higher salary level than my salary right now) is the worst feeling for me, since i really want to see the good in people and trust them that they will not take advantage of me and will treat me as fair as everybody else.

    After i asked myself thousand times how this all could have been happen to me and ended up like this, i observed all my mistake i did in the past and from the beginning onwards:

    1. i never set boundaries. If someone needed my help, i always supported what ever it was. I did some tasks just to help out, on the next day people expected me to do those things, since there was no special person anyway who owned those tasks. So congratulations, it was mine.
    I gave the wrong signs to my environment and it was my mistake not to say “no”. It is not in my nature to be “rude” or anything, but to realize that it is not at all rude to say “no” took me a while.

    2. Everybody knew that i want to make a career so hard that i would work harder than anybody else to get promoted. Very well for a boss who has plenty of jobs but no manpower and no money. I mean, i totally understand him: Why paying for 3 full-time jobs, if paying just a quarter of this amount and getting the same work done?!

    3. I allowed my boss to cheat on me! Even though i knew that he will again cheat on me i did not want to listen to myself, but was full of hope that it will be different this time. Don´t trust anyone who has cheated on you before he is not showing any change.

    4. I have the dim feeling that, in a work environment where everybody of your colleagues only gives 50%, you should never ever ever ever go for 150% to get a promotion. Maybe in some very honest and fair companies that works, but in those you will only have a few colleagues who gives less than 100%.
    I think it would have been better for me just to give 10% more than the hardest working employee who’s job can be compared with mine, instead of showing everybody how fast and efficient i work and to invite them dumping all their tasks on my desk.

    Has been some while ago since you have posted your text and i hope you found a job which suits you better.

    However, i hope that my experience and findings can help someone who is in the same positions.

    Best regards


    By Marie on Apr 15, 2015

  8. Wow! It does help to not feel alone! I’m headed to work tomorrow to have THE talk with my boss. It truly seems like the posts written by @burned out and @marie could have been done by me… I too am dealing with setting those boundaries. The trouble I have is I think I love my job (think being the operative word) and I hope I’m not just trying to over function to compensate for lack of self esteem or something like that…

    By Elena on Mar 2, 2016

  9. I hear you folks. I work in an office that has a union as well as non-unionized staff. I’m the latter. Due to austerity measures imposed by the government in 2009, my salary was frozen. 2 years later the union salaries were also frozen (their increases had to be honoured because they had a current Collective Agreement in place). Later on, large chunks of my job were taken (actually, snatched) away from my position and reassigned internally. Nobody came to discuss this with me or take the initiative to look at and “fix” my situation, and even though I made several attempts to ask and get things resolved, I got nowhere. I wondered if they were trying to get me to leave and thought that, in the current environment, if that’s what they wanted they’d have to take that initiative. I would stay put because I had not been able to get anything else comparable and still need to keep my job. I’m also a single female on my own and my only source of support, which is great most of the time but can also be a little scary. Also, because of the office environment, the non-union, non-management staff don’t talk to each other like the union staff do. Its a tough environment to work in. More recently the office got more work, but my job remains almost (but not quite) without a lot of responsibilities attached to it. I help out where I can and a lot of the staff know to come to me because I’m highly skilled and knowledgeable, know exactly what to do and both accurately and quickly. Its just too bad that whenever I try to approach my boss about salary increases (the union just ratified a new Collective Agreement and they all got pay raises, not to mention their salary bands adjusted to accommodate those raises which are in effect at varying percentages annually for a few more years) and adjusting our salary bands but keep getting weak excuses and push back and etc. Not to mention similar reactions when I ask about my job responsibilities. Its quite disheartening and demoralizing, but because I need to keep the funds rolling in I’m staying put. I even attempted to consult with a lawyer but that person not only wouldn’t listen, they tried to make out that there was only one way to help the situation, which wasn’t what I was looking for, and practically accused me of being ill just because ONCE only I was obliged to take a month off on stress leave due to a situation that arose at work. That doesn’t make me permanently ill. I basically got steamed at the lawyer, got up and stormed out of that office, and am still nowhere with the situation. Bottom line with me is that I have to keep the job, don’t wish to be subjected to any more of the negative conducts I’ve been subjected to over time, but just because I’m female and excluded shouldn’t entitle the employer to take advantage of or abuse me. So I soldier on and hopefully at some point I’ll be able to achieve the positive changes and improvements that I think are more than warranted by now.

    By S on Oct 21, 2016

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