Promoted at Work? 5 Questions to Ask Before Saying Yes

Offered a Promotion? Maybe Don't Say Yes
Ok, wait—why wouldn’t you accept a promotion?
Well, sure, by and large, a promotion’s a great thing, and in most cases you’ll say, “thank you very much,” and accept the new title (and hopefully a raise too) right away. But all that glitters…you know? There are a few reasons you actually might want to pass on that shiny new job title. Let's take a look.

CONSIDER WHY YOU'RE BEING PROMOTED

Before accepting any offer, consider your company’s motivation behind the move. There are a few possible scenarios that make accepting a promotion a risky choice: 
  • THERE'S NO BUDGET FOR A RAISE: They have certain tasks they need accomplished but have no budget to hire someone in a new role. If the promotion is only an increased workload and doesn't include a raise, they may be taking advantage of your desire to move up the ladder at any cost and keep you in salary limbo longer than you’d want.
  • THEY WANT TO TRY BEFORE THEY BUY: Maybe your boss wants to see if you can grow into the role. That’s an understandable approach, but just make sure you agree upon a contingency plan should this promotion not work out—perhaps you go back to your former role. If the offer comes with no raise, you’ll want to have a discussion with your boss and set measurable and attainable goals for earning that raise. That way you both know when you've proved you're a smashing success and deserve the raise! 
  • YOU'RE BEING PROMOTED BEFORE A LAYOFF: Your manager might know the company is headed for change but hasn’t yet shared that news with the employees. They may be about to go through a series of layoffs, another company may be acquiring them, or perhaps they’re about to acquire another company. All of these could affect your new role, and it will be helpful to know these details before going all in. If you suspect something, don't be afraid to ask. It's your future on the line here.
When you get that offer, you’ll feel excited, but don’t let it go to your head. Flip your brain into negotiation mode. Now is the time to ask the pertinent questions that will help you make a smart decision.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN YOU'RE NEGOTIATING AN OFFER 

1. WHY IS THIS ROLE OPEN? 

If the answer is, “Marie needed more time with her family,” that could be a red flag. Did the role require a lot of overtime? Ask follow-up questions.

2. WHAT ARE THE JOB RESPONSIBILITIES EXPECTED OF ME? 

Listen carefully to the answer and make notes so you can consider the pros and cons when you get home. Maybe you’re ready for more responsibility and welcome lots of work, but you’ll want to know going in.

3. WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS POSITION IN THREE YEARS? 

If the answer is, “Exactly where it is now,” you’ll know the employer isn’t seeing this as a chance to help you further your career. That’s okay; you’ll make it happen anyway. This would be a great time to share your career goals and ask your employer to help you achieve them. 

4. WHO WILL I REPORT TO?

If the response is the name of a person you know is very hard to work with, that’s something you’ll want to mark boldly on the “con” side of your list. Life is too short to be miserable every single day of your work life, no matter how much money they’re offering.

5. AND FINALLY, SPEAKING OF MONEY, WHAT ABOUT NEGOTIATING SALARY?

Talking money can be uncomfortable, especially if you don't feel like you have great negotiating skills, but ask anyway. Even if there’s no raise planned for now, at least you’ve put it on the table. Make them tell you why they’re asking you to accept more responsibility without commensurate pay. 
 
If it turns out this job isn’t for you and you have to respectfully decline, have no fear; it can still be a valuable process. Use the discussion to share your career goals. Perhaps your employer will become an ally in helping you achieve them!

Have you ever accepted a raise without a salary increase? Why?