How to decline an internal job promotion

Not all offers of promotion are cause for celebration. If you don’t want to take that promotion just yet, declining can make you feel awkward. You may have a number of legitimate reasons for declining an internal promotion. For example, you may not want the extra responsibility, or you may simply think the pay is too low. Whatever your reasons, provided you’re pragmatic and respectful, declining shouldn’t hurt your career prospects.

Establish your reasoning

Make a list for your own reference outlining the reasons that you’re going to decline. Put the main reason at the top and work down. Important decisions like these aren’t typically made based on one factor. Having your reasons written down can help you clarify in your head what you want from your career and whether your current employer can deliver this.

Ask for time to consider the offer

If you suspect that an offer is coming your way, don’t refuse instantly, as this removes the opportunity to discuss the offer with your boss. If you are asked whether you’d be interested in a promotion, request a day or so to think it over. Never flat-out refuse an offer or to discuss an offer of promotion.

The formal refusal

Write a letter to your manager and make a copy for human resources. It’s always handy to have these things on record, especially if you’re concerned that refusing the promotion may cause problems in the future.

Declining informally

Call a meeting with your manager or the person who offered you the internal promotion. Thank them for their support and for the offer of the promotion. Then go on to explain why you’d prefer not take it. If it’s the compensation, say so. Explain that you think the demands of the role are too much for the salary increase (or lack thereof) on offer. This may work in your favour in future should they offer it to you again. If you don’t like the job role on offer, respectfully explain that you feel your skills are best suited for your current role. Personal reasons may play a part in your decisions and it’s fine to mention these. You may not wish to be away from your family any more than you currently are. After you’ve explained your reasons, hand over the letter you wrote so they have your reasons on file.

Plan for the future

One of the risks of declining an internal promotion is that your boss may think you’re not interested in advancement within the business. You can mitigate this risk by discussing your plans for the future within the business. It may be that you’d like to be considered for promotion in a year’s time, or when you feel more comfortable with the technical aspects of your role. There are lots of legitimate reasons for not taking that promotion, but it’s essential to reassure your boss that you’re still committed to the business.

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About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for