12 Reasons to Say No to a Promotion at Work

Author: Maurie Backman | August 09, 2019

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Don't be so quick to say yes

Many workers strive to get promoted at their respective companies. But in some cases, accepting a promotion could be a move that hurts you. Here are a few scenarios where it actually pays to turn down that more impressive-sounding job title and leave things status quo.

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1. You don't want to compromise your work-life balance

Getting promoted means taking on more responsibility on the job, and that could easily translate into longer hours. The result? A major blow to your work-life balance. If you value your free time outside the office, or are already struggling to eke out enough personal time, then turning down a promotion is probably the way to go.

ALSO READ: How to Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance in 2019

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2. There's a lot going on in your personal life

Maybe you’re having a baby in the near future, or you’re moving to a new home. When you have a lot happening in your personal life, the last thing you want is added pressure and upheaval on the job front. If that’s the case, you’re better saying no to a promotion, at least for the time being.

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3. Your employer isn't clear on what your new role will entail

The last thing you want to do is agree to a promotion without really understanding what it is you’re signing up for. If your employer is unable to pinpoint exactly what your new responsibilities and tasks will be, then think twice before agreeing to such a nebulous arrangement. 

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4. You don't want to manage your peers

In some cases, getting promoted means going from co-worker to manager of your peers. And that could compromise office friendships and make for an uncomfortable situation on a whole. If you’re not keen on being your colleagues’ boss, then don’t hesitate to say no.

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5. You're not really qualified

If you’re offered a promotion you’re not really qualified for, you might feel flattered at first. But be careful -- if you accept that role and fail at it, you’ll likely end up getting demoted and suffering a blow to your ego. As such, you may be better off declining.

ALSO READ: Should You Apply for a Job You're Not Qualified For?

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6. There's no extra money involved

Unfortunately, a promotion doesn't always equal a raise. If your title change doesn’t come with a boost in salary, you could end up doing a lot more work for the same amount of money. And that’s something you’re highly unlikely to feel good about in the long run.

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7. Your technical skills might suffer

Getting promoted often means spending more time managing people and projects, and less time getting your hands dirty. And that could, in turn, impact your technical skills. Imagine you work in IT and get promoted to manager. If you start spending your days compiling reports rather than troubleshooting network or software glitches, your core skills might take a hit. Or, you might end up spending less time doing the sort of work you actually enjoy.

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8. You hate meetings

Getting promoted doesn’t always mean having more meetings, but that’s often the case. If you despise the idea of spending your days trapped in conference rooms, then you may want to turn down a promotion that will likely sentence you to that very fate.

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9. You loathe paperwork

If you’re promoted to be a manager, there’s a good chance you’ll have more administrative work to deal with. If filling out forms and submitting reports on a regular basis doesn’t appeal to you, then you might consider staying in your current position. 

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10. The role doesn't line up with your career path

The promotion you’re offered might seem like a good opportunity in theory -- but it is the right opportunity for you? Even if that title change does come with a corner office and higher pay, if it takes you further away from the job you really want, it’s not worth saying yes.

ALSO READ: 3 Ways to Jump-Start a Stalled Career

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11. You were thinking of leaving the company already

Maybe you’re not thrilled with your company’s culture, or another aspect of the business, to the point where you’ve been sending out resumes in an effort to escape. If there are things you dislike about your company that aren’t going to change by virtue of your promotion, then by accepting it, you’ll most likely continue being unhappy -- only at that point, you might have an even harder time parting ways with your employer. A better bet? Stay in your current role and focus on your job search.

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12. You're just plain happy where you are

Some people feel that by staying in the same role for a long time, they’re hurting their careers. But if you enjoy what you do and don’t feel compelled to change things up, then why force yourself to accept a promotion? You can respectfully decline and make it clear that you’re doing so because you’re exceptionally content with your current setup. 


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