When You Should Say “No” to a Promotion

The top 5 reasons when saying “no” could actually help your career.

The days of taking a job promotion just to move up the corporate ladder are over.

People everywhere are turning down more money in return for a better life. And while a promotion could be a great move for your career, it might not always be the right one.

So before you order new business cards, it’s important to know when it’s the right time to move up, and when it’s not.


Over the course of my short career, I’ve had a fair amount of job changes.

I’ve accepted two job promotions, turned down one, and left a company for a better job offer.

Each time, I would thoroughly weigh out every detail, talk to everyone I knew and took time to carefully consider each offer.

A few weeks ago, however, my fiancée got offered a promotion and turned it down without thinking twice about it.

I would say I was shocked, but I knew the promotion wasn’t right for her career. And so did she.

Naturally intrigued by her conviction though, I became curious if other people had been through a similar experience where they just knew a promotion wasn’t right for them.

So I decided to turn to several of my friends and ask them if (and why) they didn’t take an appealing job promotion.

What you will see in their answers below is that there is a surprising shift going on in the workplace — people aren’t just blindly climbing corporate ladders anymore.

There is a movement of intentionality with work and it’s really exciting.

Here are a few of their answers:

1. Less Money

A recent Ernst & Young research study conducted across 8 countries and 10,000 employees found that as salaries have stagnated and the cost of living has risen, people are less interested in taking on more work, because it just doesn’t make sense anymore.

In fact, sometimes when you move into a management role, you actually end up making less money. Take Adam for example, who thankfully realized this major detail before it was already too late.

2. Less Time With My Family

A few years ago, CNBC reported on dads who have said no to promotions because they wanted to spend more time with their families.

Moving up usually means that you are moving into a management role of some type, where about 58% of managers in the US work over 40 hours per week. More time in the office means more time away from home.

So, when the appeal of making more money and joining the “elite” comes into direct conflict with the needs of your family, you’re suddenly facing an even bigger dilemma. And for some, the answer is quite clear:

3. It’s Just Not The Right Timing

When it comes down to it, sometimes a promotion just isn’t at the right time for where you are in your life.

Maybe you’re having health issues and need to be focusing on that. Perhaps you’re doing a lot of volunteer work and are not ready to cut back time with your favorite non-profit.

What you need to understand is that your priorities will shift throughout your life and it’s okay to be selfish with your time. It’s YOUR time, after all.

4. You’ll Have Less Flexibility

One of the biggest trends happening in the workplace right now is increased schedule flexibility. There are more and more companies realizing that work isn’t a destination, it’s an activity.

It makes sense and people want more of it. That’s why when a promotion can lead to a more demanding schedule, sometimes it’s not in your best interest to move up.

5. You are Focused on a “Side Hustle”

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, over one-third of young professionals have some type of “side-hustle.” This can be anything from running a blog to a coaching business.

Whether you plan to eventually transition to the entrepreneur world full-time or just like to have a creative outlet, this gig of yours is important and you aren’t ready to sacrifice it. You’re simply not ready to give it up that easily.

A Promotion Isn’t Always Right

The worst thing you can do is succeed at the wrong thing in life. And a promotion might be your fast-pass ticket to a miserable career.

So, before you jump into a new role, take some time to think about all of the other factors that may be affected by this promotion.

By taking time to really evaluate your new offer, it will help you make a better, more informed decision with your personal interest at its center.

Have you passed up a promotion too? If so, share your story below.


Originally published at www.scottabradley.com on May 9, 2017.