June 9, 2023 | Eul Basa

This Is Why You Shouldn't Just Accept A Promotion

It can be easy to blindly say "yes" to a promotion on the assumption that it will always be better than your current position, at the very least in terms of pay and responsibilities. But the wiser approach would be to evaluate the promotion just as you would any other job offer because essentially, that's what it is.

Sarah Vermunt, a career coach from Toronto, warns employees to review the terms of promotion carefully as there are times when "moving up" could actually put them at a disadvantage. She says that while promotions are meant to be marks of honor and rewards for good work, they also usually come with potentially different workloads that may make employees less happy with their jobs. "The irony is they got the promotion because they were really good at their old job, which probably means they enjoyed doing it," she adds.

Taking on new responsibilities could mean having to learn new skills to excel at the new job, as well as having to get used to not being a top performer anymore. Then comes the issue of money. One should always ask: "Will the pay increase be worth the extra work, or am I comfortable with where I am now?" In the long run, having a higher salary may not be worth it if you start dreading going to work every day. Additionally, if the pay increase is not significant enough, it may be a good idea to discuss that. As mentioned before, a promotion is like a new job offer, so you are allowed to negotiate.


Vermunt says there are some red flags that employees can watch for to protect themselves. For one, it is important to identify "vanity promotions," which are when employees are asked to say yes or no to the promotion on the spot. If there is no paperwork and the promotion is essentially just in name only (i.e., it doesn't offer an increase in pay or give an employee more influence in the company), then it's technically not real promotion. If the new position being offered is entirely different and takes an employee out of a role that he or she really loved, that could be a red flag as well.

"It’s totally okay to say, ‘I’m so thrilled that you see me in this position and I’m very grateful for the opportunity, but I actually see myself going in this direction and would like to work for a promotion to go that way instead,’" says Vermunt. "Movement could be possible, and a promotion is not a yes or a no, it’s a job offer like any other. You can and you should negotiate."




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