Should you ever turn down a promotion?
April 18, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I think my boss is about to offer me a promotion. What should I say if I'm not sure I actually want it?

I arrived at my current job when I was desperate for any job I could get after graduating from college. I'm lucky that I ended up working at a pretty decent gig, it's just not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. A promotion would result in more responsibility, but not much of a change in what I already do. Any raise would be small.

After a two years of pretty dull corporate administrative work I promised myself I'd start applying for jobs that will help me get experience and skills for pursuing my dream job as a science writer.

I don't plan on leaving immediately, but I have been planning on applying to new jobs in earnest starting in the fall. Depending on my luck with applying, it could even take an additional six months or longer to even get a new gig.

My boss wants to have lunch to discuss this, should I be honest with her? Should I take the promotion, even if it's likely that I might leave in six months?
posted by forkisbetter to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Yes, take the promotion, unless it would also mean much longer hours -- if nothing else, it will look good on your resume. It won't hurt them any more if you leave with your new job than if you left at your current one.
posted by brainmouse at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Take the promotion. At lunch, discuss what the new roles & responsibilities are, as well as compensation. Do not talk about how you plan to apply to new jobs.

Think of it like this: Would your company tell you that they plan to eliminate your position in six months or so?
posted by kellyblah at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Think about your timeline.

How likely are you to find a job that's a better fit? If you take this job, and a few months later you depart you may be asked why you left your previous job so soon after a promotion. A potential employer may view this decision in a negative light so be ready to confidently explain your decision.

Balance the benefits of the promotion against how quickly you want to leave the job.
posted by iheijoushin at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2012

You tell your boss that the increase in compensation is not worth the increased workload for you (if, indeed the increased responsibility means an increased workload).

If there is no increase in workload, then it's basically free money - and you should take the free money.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Getting a promotion will look very good on that resume you're using, so even if you plan to leave, you should take it.
posted by davejay at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2012

Any raise and increase in responsibility that you can write down on your resume can be used to leverage a higher salary when you are accepting the new job that you will find. That said, you do have to weigh it against working longer hours, and in that case you do have a right to discuss this with your boss to see if the promotion is a good fit for you.
posted by at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take the promotion, but feel free to leave it off your resume for the next few months if you want to avoid questions about why you are leaving immediately after getting a promotion.
posted by COD at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2012

It's perfectly fine to negotiate with your employer regarding a promotion, just as it's fine to negotiate when you are first hired. Both sides are agreeing to new terms and you should feel that the compensation is fair for what you are being asked to do.

That being said, if you plan to use this employer as a reference, you may want to consider what they expect of you if you accept the promotion. If they think it means you will be staying for over a year, it may be better to have an honest conversation with your employer (depending on your relationship with your boss).
posted by theuninvitedguest at 8:31 AM on April 19, 2012

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