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Last month, we examined some of the reasons why — and when — turning down a promotion makes sense. While on the surface it might seem counterintuitive to furthering your career, shunning advancement for a more senior opportunity can make sense, given the right work and life circumstances.

If you’ve got an offer on the table to move up the ladder (or you anticipate one might be coming sometime this year), it’s even more important to consider any repercussions — good and bad — for passing on the promotion. Will there be any workplace fallout, surprise silver linings, or clear-cut advantages? What are the potential pros, the cons, the benefits and the drawbacks you might expect?

Pros of Declining a Promotion

Renewed Focus on Your Current Position

It’s understandable to not want to take a promotion if you love your existing role, you love your responsibilities and you love your coworkers; advancing into another position (even with the temptation of more money) would mean saying goodbye to a job you truly enjoy … and hello to another job that doesn’t appeal to you. If you’ve found your niche and determined that advancement would take you away from what you’re good at (i.e. compelling day-to-day tasks vs. repetitive/stressful administrative duties), it’s fine to say no to a promotion.

Doing so can equip you with the opportunity to double down on what you do best in the day to day. Keep building your skill set and honing focus on your specialties. 

Really prove yourself in your role

After all, by working on becoming a specialist in your field, you can better qualify yourself for future promotions that might be a better fit for you. Here, asking to renegotiate your salary in lieu of a promotion is a better compromise for both parties. 

More Time Devoted to Other Pursuits

That promotion might look good on paper, but think about the new sacrifices it will expect of you: extra time spent in the office or commuting, a punishing workload, major managerial responsibilities, more stress and so on. But the worst part? When a promotion takes you away from the path you’re trying to travel. 

Staying your current course would continue to give you the time and opportunity to pursue that freelance gig or side hustle that’s just starting to hit its stride. You might have just begun to master striking the right work/life balance. Why upset it with a promotion that doesn’t feel right to you? 

Empowering Your Future Career Choices

Our last blog post on reconsidering a promotion recounts some of the red flags to look for if you’ve been given an offer to advance. High turnover rates, imbalances in job structure, being “thrown into the deep end” (i.e. lack of training or onboarding) or too much work for too little money; these are just a few surface-level warning signs that you’ll be the passenger, not the driver, of a job traveling in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, rejecting that promotion truly enables you the chance to own your career and take charge of it in ways you might not have considered previously. We’re almost conditioned to believe that a promotion is always an offer we shouldn’t refuse because it’s “the right thing to do” for nebulous, undefined reasons. But think about it: now you can pursue additional education or certifications, continue to qualify for other staff or freelance opportunities in your current capacity, and maybe accept another promotion if the offer and future timing are better aligned. 

Cons of Refusing a Job Promotion

You May Not Be Considered for Future Promotions

A promotion, in essence, is a compliment. It’s your boss’s or supervisor’s way of saying they believe in you, your achievements, your qualifications and, most of all, your potential. They’ve handpicked you among the competition as the right person for the role. These reasons alone can explain why it’s difficult to turn down a job promotion if one comes your way.

But rejecting your boss might have its own repercussions, since there’s a chance they might not consider you for future job openings. They’ve already advocated for you by convincing their superiors in upper management that you’re a seamless fit. Turning down the promotion could telegraph that you’re unconfident or lack career motivation — qualities they can pursue in other, more willing candidates, leaving you stuck in your current position (and maybe eventually regretting your decision).

Your Current Position May Become Redundant

There may be organizational or structural changes in the pipeline at your company, and your position may be one of the unfortunate ones planned for elimination or outsourcing. A promotion, in this case, may be your superiors’ way of retaining your talents and advancing you to the next level without the need to lay you off. And rejecting the promotion could mean losing the job you do have in the near future, leaving you with nothing.

Of course, unless you’re in the know or a part of that company conversation, there’s little to no way of knowing if cuts are in the works. But if you’re given the offer to advance in the ranks, don’t be afraid to ask your boss about the future of the company and the status of your current role. If they can be honest with you about their intent to best reposition you in a way that’s advantageous to your career and the company, it could be an impetus to spread your wings and accept that promotion after all for the promise of better job security.

Your Career Progression May Become Compromised

It’s easy to get caught up in the immediacy of a job promotion offer and decide to turn it down based on how it will affect your life now. It’s great to live in the moment, but in this moment, passing on that promotion for short-term reasons could have long-term consequences. Not having that critical experience on your resume could hurt your chances of finding a more senior position — not just with your current employer, but with another company in the future.

This doesn’t mean you should cajole yourself into accepting a promotion if your doubts for turning it down are valid and resonant, but remember that your career is a trajectory: a professional journey defined by all the cumulative experiences and skills you’ve developed and amassed over the years to define who you are, and where you are, today. Passing on that promotion could slow that progression, while embracing it could accelerate — even elevate — that professional path you’re on. 

Keep Your Career on Track With Headfarmer

At Headfarmer, we swear by the mantra that every person should be in charge of their own career, and that everyone deserves to make their dream careers become reality.

In connecting top-level professionals in the Greater Phoenix area with the job opportunities that foster career advancement, personal growth and professional fulfillment, we also want to know that you’re on the right path in this stage of your career. And that means we can help you explore your career options if a promotion is a part of your current professional situation. We take a holistic approach to recruiting and ensure that each candidate is making the right moves to advance in their careers, whether it’s capitalizing at their current company or branching out to another.

Get in touch with us today to start exploring your career options. 

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