Should You Jump at Every Promotion Opportunity?

The easiest way to resolve most of life’s money problems is to earn more money. You can cut back many unnecessary wants like cable, internet, cell phones, and eating out… but at some point there is no more cutting to be done. Extra income is needed to better your financial situation.

Of course one of the easiest ways to make more money — usually — is to get promoted at your job.

But here’s an interesting question for you: should you take every opportunity you can get to get promoted?

If your immediate answer is yes, I don’t think you’re thinking this all the way through.

handshake
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Should I Accept a Promotion?

Getting promoted at work is almost always a good thing. You’re moving up the ranks, doing something good, adding another line to your company resume, and taking on additional responsibility. And you’re probably getting paid more which is going to help you in other areas of your life.

Promotions are great! You’ll probably even get a cake with your pat on the back.

Who doesn’t like cake?

What Changes When I Get Promoted?

Getting a promotion is great… unless it is disastrous.

“Wait a minute… how can moving up in my company be such a bad thing?”, you might ponder.

Glad you asked:

Work / Life Balance

With a new title and position comes new and challenging work.

It also usually comes with more work. More responsibility. Maybe some other employees reporting to you or a project that you are responsible for implementing. Or maybe the new job has travel requirements that your old one didn’t.

And you just got a bump in pay, you’re feeling good about your career and the company, so you work harder. You justify coming in early and staying late in order to please your new boss or whoever was responsible for you moving up.

It is easy to quickly find your work / life balance out of whack. You’re earning more money, but spending less time with your family. They’re getting to spend your extra income without you being around to enjoy it with them.

Office Politics

Whenever multiple people are interviewing for a promotion there is, by default, a winner and some losers. Only one person gets the promotion. The rest get back to work, their hopes dashed like ships on rocky shores.

Oh, and some of them might be one of your new direct report. How fortunate for you.

Even if there isn’t much animosity between you and the other candidates, there is bound to be some sort of politics involved the higher up you go in an organization. (Granted, some organizations don’t have this problem, but just stating as a general rule.) Politics can be stressful which can pile up on top of the stress from your work/life balance being off.

Should I Turn Down a Promotion?

The flip side — getting the promotion but turning it down — is also precarious. You don’t want to seem like you aren’t interested in growing your career with the organization or that you just want to glide on through life with your current situation.

Turning down a promotion is tricky. You need a good boss that understands your personal motivations well. Maybe you feel you can make a deeper impact for the company by spending a few more years in your current role, or maybe you have a legitimate reason like you’re trying to start a family and don’t want to do that while also taking on 10 new direct reports.

Maintaining communication with your superior and any potential superiors that would want to consider you for the promotion is key. Smart companies value their best employees, even if they decide the promotion is not the best move for them at the time.

What about you? Would you ever turn down a promotion?

About the Author

By , on Jul 24, 2012
Kevin Mulligan
Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for RothIRA.com, Discover Bank, and many others.

Leave Your Comment (3 Comments)

  1. Tom S says:

    A friend of mine is a CEO.. Try to use theory of mind to put yourself in your employer’s shoes – you may have a principle-agent problem at hand.

    Case in point: Often promotions are far greater time and responsibility increases than they are increases in pay.

  2. Lance says:

    I might. My company has a ton of locations and I don’t know if I’d want to leave where I live… it would be a tough choice with lots of thought involved.

  3. Jenna says:

    Not yet. I’m not sure I would, unless I had some sort of family emergency or something.

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