In most cases, getting a promotion calls for celebration. It's a sign of recognition that you have done a good job.
That's great. If it happens to you, take a few minutes to celebrate your accomplishment. Give yourself a high five and a "hip hip hooray," and have a drink in your own honor. After that, do some deep thinking.
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In most cases, a promotion is a great thing, but there are times when it makes sense to say no. Before jumping at your new opportunity, think long and hard about the scenarios below.
Is this your job, not your career?
If you're working to put yourself through school or have taken a job because you can't get work in your chosen field, then a promotion may not benefit you. More money would be good, of course, but added responsibilities and work hours may actually knock your career off track.
Of course, the new opportunity may change your career path for the better, but make sure it's what you really want. Money is great, but it's not worth sacrificing your long-term work happiness.
Do you intend to stay?
Early in my career, when I worked for a digital pioneer, my boss asked me out to lunch. She was, I am pretty sure, going to offer me a promotion. The problem is that I had already accepted another position at a different company.
The reason I'm not entirely sure what my boss intended to say was that before she could make an offer, I gave notice. It would have been flattering to hear about the new position, but that would have been self-indulgent, since nothing would have changed my mind.
Do your circumstances mean you won't succeed?
Sometimes everyone has things in their life which trump work in importance. Maybe you have a child on the way, you're dealing with an illness in the family, or you have another concern that makes a promotion impractical.
At those times in life, you may not have the focus or bandwidth for a new job or more responsibility. Saying no is hard, and it may take you out of the running for future promotions, but it's better to say no and explain why than to say yes and fail.
If you say no to a promotion, do your best to decline gracefully. Explain to your boss honestly that you are flattered, but that you have to pass, for whatever the reason is. But make it clear that even if your focus is divided or your future lies elsewhere, that you will remain a dedicated employee.
Continue to do the things that got you the promotion offer in the first place. Hopefully, your boss will appreciate the honesty, and not be slighted or surprised to learn that you have other career plans or issues in your life which compete with your job.
Don't take a job just because it's offered or because it will pay more money. Make the right decision for your career goals, one that will benefit both you and the company you've turned down.
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