12 Times You're Better Off Without a Promotion

You've been with a company for years, and have received excellent performance reviews. You may even be due for a promotion. Maybe it will come with a bigger paycheck, a larger office, and a fancier title. But should you automatically accept a promotion if one is offered? (See also: 12 Ways to Finally Get That Promotion This Year)

Moving up the corporate ladder seems like a no-brainer, but there are many reasons why you might be better off declining.

1. You Wouldn't Be Doing What You Want to Do

You went into engineering because you really love using technical skills to build things and solve problems. But now you're a manager, and you spend more time in budget meetings and strategy sessions than actually working on projects. Promotions can bring some extra money and influence, but what's the point if you're not doing something you enjoy — or worse, if you're being derailed from your intended career path?

2. Your Job Might Actually Become Less Secure

It seems a bit counterintuitive that a promotion would actually make you more vulnerable to a layoff, but it is possible. It's often more cost-effective for companies to get rid of a layer of management than lay off workers in the lower rung. There's also a perception — right or wrong — that middle managers aren't tech savvy, and are therefore more dispensable.

3. You Would Have No Real Authority, But Would Be Accountable

So you got that promotion and now have some employees reporting to you. But you may find it frustrating to learn that while you're accountable for your department's performance, there are outside factors that impact your ability to control outcomes. Before accepting a promotion, try to gauge how much input you will actually have on key decisions.

4. It Would Require a Relocation

You've been offered an opportunity to move up in the company, but there's a catch: You need to move to Portland, Oregon. Now, Portland is a lovely city, but you're from Baltimore, and so are all of your friends and family. Living in Portland may be a little pricier, and the city doesn't even have a Major League Baseball team! For some people, moving for work is a fun adventure, but for many others, the change in location might not be worth it.

5. It Would Be a Promotion in Name Only

Some companies like to add "senior" to your title and give you a lot of extra responsibility. But does it come with extra pay or other perks? Is it really just a "lateral" move? If you're being saddled with extra work and stress but aren't being compensated for it, it may be the wrong kind of "promotion." Occasionally, this is okay if you're learning some new skills that will pay off down the road, but it's important to make sure your employer isn't taking advantage of you.

6. You Don't Plan to Stay With the Company

Let's say you've been fantasizing for years about opening your own gourmet donut shop, and are about six months away from having enough money saved for it. Then your employer calls and offers you a big promotion. Do you accept the offer, knowing that you were on the verge of leaving to pursue your dream? Taking a promotion when you're a short timer is pointless — and is unfair to the employer. This is also good advice for someone who is considering leaving a company due to its shaky finances. If you weren't confident in the company before, getting a new title and bigger paycheck isn't going to change matters.

7. You'd Be Asked to Fix the Unfixable

I once had a friend who took a job to turn around a struggling division. He saw it as an opportunity to show off some leadership skills and execute his own vision. In a short time, however, he learned that the division's problems were so deep that they were beyond his ability to repair. Occasionally, higher-ups might give credit to an employee for making the best of a bad situation, but it's often just misery with no happy ending. Don't accept a promotion to "save" something that is beyond saving.

8. Your Work-Life Balance Would Suffer

Is this new job going to require longer hours at the office? Will you be on the road constantly? Will you constantly be on call? You may be at a point in your life when you need to be home more often to care for kids or an elderly parent. Or maybe you just want more time to pursue various interests. CNBC last year reported on some dads who declined promotions because they wanted to spend more time with their families. You should not be so reliant on that extra paycheck that you're willing to sacrifice the quality of your non-work life.

9. You're Not Qualified

It's great to take on a new challenge, but it's important to be honest about your own talents and experience. We may be conditioned to fight off a fear of failure, but there are instances when those fears may be valid. If you enter into a job without the right skill set, you could find yourself with no career at all.

10. The Only Reason You're Considering It Is for the Money

A better paycheck is great motivation to climb the corporate ladder, but if it's the only reason you're even thinking about taking the job, turn it down — assuming the money isn't really needed.

11. The Job Doesn't Align With Your Values

If you're a vegetarian, would you enjoy being in charge of a marketing campaign for the beef industry? If you're a Quaker, could you be an engineer of a major weapons system? We all have values and beliefs that guide us, and working in any job that's contrary to those beliefs can make us miserable.

12. It's a Dead End

You may think that moving up the ladder is always good thing, but it's important to also think of the next step. Do you see a potential path to other opportunities within the company? Does this new job really add anything to your resumé? If you lose this job, will you be able to easily find a new one in the same field?

Have you ever turned down a promotion? If so, why?

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