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When to turn down a promotion

Going up   Is the time right for the next career step?

It may sound silly, but the question is serious: Should you accept a promotion or not? It brings some benefits, a bigger salary and it is step up. But, not every promotion is for you.

While climbing the corporate ladder, each and every step is important and brings you closer to the ultimate goal: the CEO position of the whole organization. If your organization is well-organized, you won't have to fight for a promotion, it will come naturally to you if you are doing your job well. Higher managers are always looking and you will be noticed.

So, what to do when an important jump in your career is offered to you? Instead of taking that jump without thinking, stop for a while and ask yourself is the time right for your next job, no matter how attractive it may look.

The first thing to ask yourself is "Can I do that?" No matter how experienced you are, your new job demands new skills and knowledge. So, can you do that? If you can't, can you learn in a reasonable amount of time? Be honest to yourself here and don't think about money and status, but think what will happen if you fail. You may be "promoted" back to your old position. Or even lower.

The next question for you is "Is this the right step in my career?" This is especially important if you are changing fields, for example from a technical job to a managerial position with completely different set of skills required. That's important because it may guide you to the wrong path, the one you didn't think you'll do in your life, and one that could make you feel miserable in the long run because you are not doing what you were schooled for.

The third question is "Do I feel well in boss' shoes?" Some people are just not made to have a bunch of people in a hierarchy below them, making decision all day long and, in a sense, have a control over other people's job and destiny. Some just want to do their job the best they can, without messing with corporate policy and manager's things and stuff. And running the company from the highest place requires more soft skills and people management experience than anything else.

If you can't answer positively to those three simple questions, it's time to say "Thank you, but no" to that seemingly great offer. With or without explanation, your superiors will appreciate that move more than lightning-fast "I accept!"

Now, you should be aware of a "we will try you" situation. This is when you get an offer to take over a new job with greater responsibilities but without a) pay raise or b) clearly defined duties.

To make thing clear: there is no trial period in promotions. Period. Every working place in every serious company has clearly defined duties with all responsibilities and benefits. There is no "let us make him a boss for week and we will see." If you get such an offer, our advice would be to say "No, thank you" using kind words and start thinking about new company.

If you get an offer to take a "better job" but without a pay raise, that's a good sign that your superior wants to use your skills without any intention to award you in any way. So, this is not a better job by definition. There is nothing in it for you - maybe not even for the company - just for your boss. The solution is, without any doubt, "No, thank you."

So, what promotion you should accept? First, try to follow your education as far as possible. For example, if you are an engineer, go for the highest engineering position possible and only then think about other options.

Second, accept the change of field only if you learned something about that field along the way, while doing your current job, because one thing you certainly don't like to hear from your employees "My new boss doesn't have a clue, I have no idea why they chose her." Well, you won't hear it directly but you will be very well aware of that thinking.


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