When Should You Turn Down a Promotion?
When might you want to decline a promotion and can it actually be a “good” career move? Getting a promotion is usually welcome and means that your boss thinks you’re doing a great job and are ready to move up. But how do you know if it’s the right move for you? What should you say and how might that impact your career?
It’s a risk to say no, but if you make a logical decision based on solid reasoning, you can put a positive spin on your answer. So, present the benefits to the company of staying in your current role and how you’ll be able to provide more value instead of just slamming the door on the opportunity.
10 Reasons Why it makes Sense to Say "No"
1. You love the job you have: Maybe you really enjoy what you’re doing and it meets your needs, you like your team and your boss. You’d rather maintain the status quo.
2. The new job has too many responsibilities: If you’re already stressed and don’t need to add to your sleepless nights, it may not be the right time to make a move.
3. The promotion doesn’t come with more money: Sometimes you’ll be asked to take on additional duties and you’ll get a new title, but it doesn’t offer more money. You’ll have to decide if you’ll be learning something that will eventually pay off and if it’s worth taking this step to get there.
4. The job doesn’t lead you along the career path you want: Maybe this job means managing others and that’s not where you’d like your career to go. If management is not your goal, this new job may take you in the wrong direction.
5. Your spouse/significant other has a great job and isn’t willing to relocate: If this new position means moving, you might find that it’s not the right time to uproot everyone.
6. The timing isn’t right: You may have kids in school or are taking care of aged parents that need your attention. If this position means more hours and commitment at work, it might not fit into your life at this time.
7. You don’t feel ready for the new role: This one is tricky. You might want to stretch yourself and take on some new challenges and just jump in. But if you feel you are likely to fail for a variety of reasons, it may make sense to wait and make this move at a later time.
8. The job they’re offering is a “revolving door:” If no one ever stays in this position for more than a few months, that’s a red flag. Try to figure out what’s going on and whether this is a toxic situation. If you can, talk with someone who’s held that positon and ask them if they would recommend it.
9. You won’t get to do what you most enjoy: Sometimes the new position will pull you away from what you like the most. If you’re awesome at what you do and you enjoy it, that’s an indication that you’re pretty self-aware and probably should stay put.
10. Maybe a lateral move would be better: If you can gain some important experience by making a lateral move and then taking a promotion following that, it may be the best decision. This could lead to a better fit down the road.
How to Say No
- First of all, be gracious and thank your boss for the opportunity. Come prepared to discuss your reasons and have an honest conversation.
- Be focused and concise. If you need some time, ask for a chance to think about it and come back ready to explain yourself.
- Ask if it’s possible to defer this promotion to a later date. If so, it may be a better fit down the road. If not, let your boss know you’re open to a future opportunity when/if that comes up.
- Assure your boss that you are a committed and loyal employee and will continue to excel at your current role. Prove it.
- Explain how your current position is beneficial to the company. Refer to your strengths and what you can bring to the job you have now.
- Share your plans for your career and what you hope to achieve in the future. This may help your boss understand the type of advancement you’re looking for. Spell out your long-term goals.
Final Things to Consider
When you’re trying to decide whether to take the promotion:
- Think about your career goals and whether this new job is the logical next step in getting there.
- Learn all you can about the new position and responsibilities. Is it possible to “try it out?”
- Be honest with your manager about any concerns you have.
- Do you have the skills to succeed in the role?
- Would your new team support you?
- Make the decision that is right for YOU. You don’t want to take the job and hate it.