Turning down a promotion

The good news, you’ve been offered a promotion.

The bad news, you don’t want to take it.

Is this career suicide?

It doesn’t have to be.  If handled correctly this could be a very positive opportunity to move your career forward in the desired direction.

Acknowledge and Show Appreciation

Management clearly thinks highly of you and your abilities if they are offering you a promotion.  Thank them for the vote of confidence.  Take time to understand exactly what the new job entails and why they think you are the right person for the job.  Thank them for their confidence in you.  Ask for some time to think about the offer.

Honestly Assess Your Decision

  • The offer is flattering but that is not a reason to accept.
  • Are you qualified for the position?  Would you learn and grow in the position?
  • Are you interested in the position?  Does it enable you to use your strengths?  Is the work motivating?
  • Is it a required step to where you ultimately want to be?  Does it add value to your future plans?
  • What level of time commitment is required to succeed in this position?

Why would you turn it down?

  • You don’t feel qualified for the job.  Don’t let them set you up for failure to address a short-term business problem.
  • You are not interested in the position and it does not support your career goals.
  • It requires relocation and you are not able or willing to relocate at this time.
  • The demands of the job exceed what you are able to give at this point.  Maybe you have a new baby at home, a new home that requires a lot of attention, an MBA to finish, etc.  It is ok to have a life beyond work and you need to honestly assess what you are willing to give up for the position.

Image Courtesy of Google

Saying No

  • Thank them for their offer and their confidence in you.
  • Suggest that while you are very interested in advancing your career with the company, explain that this position doesn’t move you towards your goals
  • You don’t  have to share all the gory details but try to offer a concrete reason or two.
  • More importantly, let them know the type of opportunities you are interested in.  Ask what you can be doing now to better prepare yourself for those opportunities in the future.
  • If you know a well-qualified candidate who would be interested in the position you just declined, offer to share a recommendation
  • Emphasize your commitment to success in your current role and your desire to grow within the company when the opportunity is right

A promotion is not worthwhile if it doesn’t help you grow personally and professionally.



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