You’ve been working hard for the past 6 months. You’ve been doing your fair share and then some. Then, it happens. Your boss calls you into his office. He wants to give you a promotion.
You should be happy, but you’re not. You get a knot in your stomach. Something seems “off.” Here’s why that gut feeling might be right and how to decline a promotion without losing your job.
You’re Not Ready
This is a reason that often scares most people, but you should embrace it - if it’s true. If you’re not ready for a promotion, you’re not ready. There’s nothing worse than taking that upgrade in pay and then not being able to do the job you promised you could do.
It’s A Dead-End
Let’s say you really want that spiffy new job, but the problem is that it’s really a dead-end. The promotion, as it were, might end up with you working in some isolated part of the company with new opportunities for growth from there.
Lots of companies have these departments. It’s almost like there’s a ceiling in the new department and because of that, people just go there and wait out their tenure until it’s time to retire.
That’s not something most people want. And, it doesn’t help you do anything but get a steady paycheque. Now, if that’s fine for you, then by all means. But, if you want more out of life, don’t get pigeonholed in your company.
There’s No Support
Maybe your promotion is short-lived because there’s no actual support where you’re going. Believe it or not, this happens - a lot. Your employer may think that you’re so smart that you don’t need support. That you can dive right into a job and just “pick it up” magically, somehow.
That’s a tall order for most people. And, if this is how things work at your company, a promotion like that could be a nightmare.
It Puts You In An Adversarial Role With Your Former Friends
Lots of people make friends at work. And, when they get promoted, those friends disappear. Suddenly, because you’re their superior, you either can’t fraternize with them or they don’t want to know you anymore.
You might look inside Countrywide Scotland for a new home. You might buy a new car. But, you might not have your friends anymore. So, that’s a problem (obviously).
You Don’t Believe In The Work You’d Be Doing
If you don’t believe in the work you’re doing, it’s going to ruin the promotion. You might like some aspects of your company and not others. This is completely normal. In fact, if you don’t, you probably don’t know enough about the company.
Let’s say, for example, you work for a company that makes rubber tires. You know that there are certain aspects of the job that appeal to you. Maybe you work in the HR department right now but you’ve been promoted to PR within the company.
But, you can’t stand sales. It repulses you. And, public relations seems like it might require a lot of sales. So, you might decline the job because it’s not something you’d personally be able to do. You don’t believe in the work and you find it frustrating.
This can happen to a lot of people who work for companies that promote from within. If your employer wants to give everyone already working at the company a shot at moving up, you might be offered jobs that don’t really appeal to you.
What To Say Without Saying It
The tricky thing is declining the job offer without risking your job. For most, a simple “no” is terrifying. It means that maybe you don’t like self-improvement or advancement. And, your boss might take it the wrong way.
The best way to handle this is to be honest, but frank. You could say something like, “To tell you the truth, I would love to take the job, but the fact is that __________.”
That blank is the reason why you don’t think the job is right for you. Avoid saying something that disqualifies yourself that doesn’t have to do with your own personal wants. For example, you wouldn’t want to say that you don’t think you have the skillset for the position because it might offend your employer - after all, he is the one that sees these skills in you. It might send a subtle message that he doesn’t know how to judge his employees very well.
You could also redirect the message. Instead of saying “no.” you could say, “That sounds like an amazing opportunity. However, I would really love to do _________ in the company and don’t want to move in this direction.”
If you position it this way, it’s not really a “no” in the traditional sense. You’re reinforcing the fact that you want to continue working for the company, but not in the capacity the employer is suggesting by the promotion.
Jonathan Welch is a career consultant who also has a passion for adult education, helping people better themselves so they can go after the career they want, no matter their age. He writes on the topic of careers for various sites online