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Scores of workforce members commit tirelessly to their craft for years, going those extra miles for a higher salary, a better title, more authority and added prestige. A promotion is, by most accounts, an exciting opportunity opening the door to more career advancement and opportunities.

So while the decision may seem unorthodox, ill advised, or come from far afield, isn’t passing on that coveted chance to advance a resolutely bad idea? 

Not necessarily. There are a host of good reasons why you should scrutinize declining a promotion if climbing the next rung of the ladder comes with its own set of disadvantages. 

When is turning down a promotion the right professional move?

It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. If a promotion’s been offered to you, or you think one is in your professional pipeline, consider these thoughts before accepting.

It’s Not Worth the Extra Money

It’s one thing to embrace additional responsibilities; it puts our skill sets to the test and pushes our boundaries to explore areas outside our professional comfort zones. It’s another thing when a promotion means juggling too many plates, unnecessary fires to put out, an overabundance of responsibilities, more employees to manage and bigger budgets to balance, that — in spite of the extra pay and senior capacity — isn’t worth the advancement. If a promotion will challenge your physical and mental well-being, it may be prudent to respectfully pass on this one.

There’s No Increase in Pay

Added responsibility, check. New, impressive job title, check. Managerial functions, check. Same salary as before? Trust your instincts to refuse this promotion if there isn’t enough compensation to entice you on board for the extra workload. You might be compelled to take on the challenge in the hopes of proving yourself worthy to your superiors for more pay down the line, but seriously — if your contributions are valued so highly now, you’d be paid more today, not at some undetermined time that won’t ever come. 

Bad Timing

When the job won’t align with your professional goals or impede your personal life, is it worth accepting a promotion? You may enjoy your current work/life balance, but you’ll be working longer hours in the office every day, taking you away from important family commitments and other personal circumstances, causing conflict in the process. It might require you to relocate, but that would mean the prospect of uprooting your partner from their job. 

The promotion simply might misalign with your present career aspirations. It might move you into management, but if your current role is more hands-on and action based, why leave? (The new job might also require lateral movement, managing new employees and parting ways with colleagues you love working with.) If you’re happy in your current position, pass on the promotion. Negotiate a raise instead.

Being Set Up for Failure

A promotion may seem attractive in theory, leading many professionals to jump in without knowing the specifics about onboarding and role transitioning. Is there zero training involved or unrealistic performance expectations? Have your predecessors in the role been let go? Although you may be the exception and thrive in the role, factors like high turnover rates or imbalances in job structure should raise red flags about considering a promotion. Leaving a job that was a good fit for a promotion that isn’t right for you can mean losing out on the new role and being unable to get your old job back. In this scenario, staying the course sets you up for steadier, more pragmatic success.

It’s Still Leveling Up

All is not lost after turning down a promotion. It may shock or surprise your supervisor(s) and create a difficult dialogue, but being honest in your reasons should garner respect. Thank them for the opportunity and for thinking so highly of you for the role, but reassert your enjoyment and desire to remain committed and productive in your current position. Ask them if they’ll consider you for a future promotion, or other opportunities to advance or get ahead in your company.

Next month, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of turning down a promotion. Looking for a new career opportunity? Turn to Headfarmer, where we take a personalized approach to help candidates in the Greater Phoenix area land the highest paying job that fits their goals and preferences. Reach out to us today.

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