6 Times You Should Turn Down A Promotion

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

We often think of promotions as only positive career moves. They’re a way to show that we’re progressing in our career while showing loyalty to the company. But many employees fail to see that some promotions might not be worth the risk. To keep your career on the right track, it’s important to know when a promotion isn’t right for you.

1. Only The Money Attracts You

A raise in pay is attractive to any employee. With a promotion, one can assume there will be an increase salary that’s appropriate for the new role (if you’re being offered more work with the same pay, decline). But if you’re reading the responsibilities of the new position and find yourself thinking “I could do this for X amount of money”, your head is in the wrong place.

You never want to take the next step in your career based on money alone.

Money is what can be negotiated at almost any point during your tenure with a company. The roles and responsibilities of a position are usually pretty clear. If the only thing enticing you to take the next step is a bigger paycheck, be patient and wait for the right opportunity.

2. You Know You’re Not Qualified

The following situation isn’t unheard of: a colleague resigns which leaves his/her higher level position open. The company is desperate to find a replacement because the responsibilities are too much for any one person to shoulder on top of their regular job. They start to approach current employees who might not be ready for the role but would be a warm body to fill it.

If you’re reading through the qualifications of a position and know you are not trained for that level of work, don’t risk putting your hat in the ring. Worst case scenario is that you take the promotion but flounder in the role. The company then has to hire someone else who can really do the work, leaving your career in jeopardy.

Don’t consider taking a promotion until you’re absolutely sure you can handle it.

3. It Will Upset Your Work-Life Balance

If a promotion suddenly means longer hours in the office or additional work on the weekends, make sure it fits with the balance you need within your work and life. Whether or not you have a family at home, every employee needs to find and maintain a certain balance inside and outside the office.

Even if a promotional opportunity may come with more money, you have to ask yourself if the extra pay is worth the time you’re no longer going to be able to spend doing the (non-work) things that make you happy. Taking your career to the next level shouldn’t mean burning yourself out.

4. You Won’t Be Doing What You Love

By now you’ve hopefully found at least a few things in your work you really love doing. When offered a promotion, it’s important to ask yourself if those are tasks that will be taken away from you. Will this promotion require you to act in more of a management or supervisory capacity just reviewing the work you used to love to do but no longer can?

There are always sacrifices to be made in our careers, but you don’t want to sacrifice all you enjoy doing. Make sure you are growing in your role and taking your expertise with you.

5. It Threatens Your Job Security

It’s possible the promotion you’re being considered for is with a new department or product line of your company. You have to really determine if taking a role with that level of uncertainty is a risk you’re willing to take. If that new product or department within the company fails, your job is likely lost.

It’s also important to consider where the next step is from there. If taking this promotion leads you to a dead end or a ceiling, maybe it’s not the right option for your career. You want to ensure that any step forward you take in your career doesn’t close any other doors.

6. You Aren’t Ready For Additional Responsibility

Promotions are different than raises. With a promotion, you will be expected to take on additional responsibilities. That might mean supervising employees, attending more meetings, traveling more frequently, working longer hours, or just being held responsible for more projects.

Being willing to take on additional duties should also mean you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in those duties. If you’re not ready to commit to being accountable for these new roles, wait until you are.

Accepting a promotion can be a very valuable step forward in your career if you’re ready for it. So often, employees feel they have no choice when they’re offered a new role or promotional opportunity. It’s important to remember that only we know what’s best for our career. If you have a concerns about a new role, talk to the supervisor about it. They’ll appreciate your being thoughtful before you take the role so you know it’s in the best interest for all parties.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
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Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees. Robin aims to empower the employees and managers she works with by providing coaching and counseling services.

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