5 Times It's Totally OK to Turn Down a Promotion

Promotion Offer


AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
So you got offered a promotion, congratulations! You feel excited but, for some reason, you're not immediately inclined to jump at the opportunity. Turning it down feels like a mistake, but accepting it just doesn't feel right.
The truth is that, just because you've been offered a promotion doesn't mean that it's the right promotion for you. And before you go ahead and agree to bigger and more responsibilities, you have to decide if it's a smart move for your career.
Here are five times when it's OK to say no to a promotion.

1. The pay is not enough.

If you're offered a promotion, but the salary does not meet your expectations or match industry standards for the job role, it's OK to negotiate or say no. You're entitled to fair pay, and if a company isn't willing or able to pay you what you need or want, then it's up to you to decide whether it's worth accepting the promotion or seeking a new job elsewhere.

2. The title doesn't suffice.

If you're offered a promotion, but the title isn't one that reflects your advancement, it's OK to negotiate the title name or say no. When you move up in your career, you want your title to show that. If your company isn't willing or able to change your title, and you don't feel comfortable working under it, it's up to you to decide whether accepting the promotion or seeking a new job with a more fitting title elsewhere is better.

3. You don't want the higher position's responsibilities.

If you don't actually want the responsibilities of the higher position — for whatever reason — it's probably best that you turn down the promotion offer. Maybe you don't think that your current higher-ups have any semblance of a work-life balance, or maybe you're in a customer- or client-facing position that you enjoy right now, and the new position would take that face-to-face interaction away. Decide what's important to you, and whether or not the new job role is something that you're willing or ready to take on, before you make a decision on the promotion.

4. The company culture is toxic.

If you work for a toxic company or boss, or the promotion would mean that you'd move into a position in which you'd work under a toxic boss, it might be best to turn down the promotion and look for a job elsewhere. Some people might decide to take the promotion to have that experience on their resume while seeking a new job, as well. Whatever the case, a toxic environment is not a healthy environment to foster a successful career, with or without a promotion.

5. The promotion would pigeon hole you.

If you're worried that if you take the promotion it'd put you in a box, perhaps it's best to pass up on it. If you're focusing in on your career path, and the promotion is a solid step forward, of course it'd likely be smart to take it. But if you want to keep your options open, and you feel that the promotion might mean more commitment than you're willing to make, you might not be ready for it. In that case, it's OK to say no.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.