Why would one even refuse career advancement or turn down a promotion? Are they crazy? Isn’t it almost everyone’s goal to be promoted?

There are a lot of reasons why getting promoted is almost everyone’s hoping for. A promotion is usually entailed with a higher salary and more authority at work but why would one even want to turn it down?

Let me share with you my experience on why I turned down a job promotion twice.

6 years ago, I was working as a Quality Analyst and I still consider it the best job I’ve ever had. It didn’t matter how heavy the workload came my way, I was more than happy to do it. It was my dream job ever since I started working in 2009. I couldn’t be any happier.

I was very good at it and got praises from the higher management and my co-workers.

One day, one of the team leaders was on leave for a month and instead of deputizing someone from the team to lead in the team leader’s absence, I was tasked to do it. I did a fairly good job at doing it.

I had gone back to my old job doing my old roles until the operations manager called me into his office. I rarely speak with him because I do not report to him. Usually, when he needs something from our department, he speaks to our department head.

When I walked into his office, our department head was there as well. My brain went on like a moving train thinking and recollecting if there’s anything I had done wrong to merit this meeting with both of them.

I sat on a chair across them. The operations manager asked me if I had an idea why we’re having the meeting. I replied no.

Cutting it short, I was offered a team leader position. A supervisorial position. Surprisingly, in the month that I handled a team, there was an increase in the team’s overall performance and they saw me as the main reason for it.

Without any hesitation, I refused the offer. I did say thank you for considering me and recognizing my work but no. They both look surprised, I bet they were not expecting that.


They asked why? I answered by saying, I’m friends with most of the team members. I even have drinks with them almost every week. It’s a boundary that I am not yet ready to put up and in my one month of handling them, I realized that I am responsible for all of their actions. Their performance and productivity. It was a responsibility that I am not up for yet.

All they could say was it’s always going to be a problem for me until I start working on it.

After a few months, I was again asked for the same position and again for the same reason, I turned it down. The only difference with this one is that when I heard they were considering me again, I got ahead and told the management to take me off the list.

Third Time’s A Charm

When a new position for a team leader was about to open again, I was on the consideration list again. The operations manager and my boss talked to me and asked me to consider it. I was great at my job as a quality analyst but they said I can make more impact if I’m leading a team.

My work was getting boring and I have gotten used to my job that I don’t find anything challenging anymore. I did think to myself that maybe it was time for me to move up and climb the ladder.


When I’m half-hearted into a decision, I always ask people who I consider know more than me. I asked my department head and the operations manager and they made great points why it’s time for me to move to operations and be a team leader.

I thought long and hard because I already turned them down twice and if I pass up on this opportunity again, it might take a long time or it might never happen again for me.

I made up my mind and am mentally prepared for the challenge of becoming a team leader. I handed in my application. I thought it was going to be the first two times that they were just going to hand me the position. I’ve thought wrong. They were going to give everyone a chance to apply and the best person gets awarded the position. Even so, I know in myself that this is mine to lose.

During the interview, the reasons I gave why I turned down the offer before was asked. I knew it was going to be asked and since I’m ready, I answered it with substance. I was ready for every question they threw at me. I did my homework and prepared my plan once I’m a team leader.

The sweet ending to this story is that they position was given to me and I’ve met their expectations. I was a team leader for nearly a year until I got promoted to operations manager. I’d like to think that if I took the offer the first time, things would not happen the way it did. I let myself ripe until I’m ready for the responsibilities that come with what may come.

There can be a lot of other reasons why you need to turn down a promotion. My story is just one of it and something that I’m proud of sharing.

You Value Your Time With Your Family

This may be cliché but how many films we’ve seen that the work eats all of our time and barely leave us time with our family? It may not be as dramatic as the films but I’ve known some who actually do not want to be promoted for the purpose of not losing time with their families. They do not want to bring work every night and instead spend the time with their partners and kids. This may not be the best career move but who am I to suggest against it? In fact, I’m all for it.


Too Much On Your Plate

You are at your limit with your current responsibilities and cannot take on more.

Working On A Favorite Project

As a developer, you will barely have the time to update on an app you created once you’ve been promoted. A group of developers will work on it because most of your day will be split into projects that you need to oversee. If you want to work on it, you’ll most likely do it after work which brings it back to the first two reasons above.

If you still want to continue to work on a project that you started and you know it in your heart that finishing it yourself or as a developer will fulfill you, turn down the offer and let your manager now that reason. For me, aside from the responsibilities, I was having a great time working as a quality analyst that I didn’t want to leave it too soon.

A Promotion You Don’t Want

The job being offered is something that has not even crossed your mind or you’ve never imagined yourself in that position. This happens when you’ve set your eyes for something and you don’t have interest in anything other than that.

If the position that was offered to me was to be the head of the quality department, I would have taken the promotion the first time I was asked.


Turning down a promotion does not always lead to a better insight from the higher management. Explain the reason why you turned it down and as much as possible do it in a way that would not make you look like you just want to turn it down and just giving out reasons.

To be clear, I don’t suggest that you turn down a promotion unless you’re entirely sure that it’s not for the best.

I’d like to think that the silver lining here is that you take a stand for what you know is best for you, your career and your time with anything else.

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