Career Advice

How to Decline a Promotion Due to Salary the Right Way (With Samples)

Promotions are great! One survey by Workhuman showed that 47.7% of US employees want to get promoted. I mean, talk about positive career growth. 

Yes, promotions are great – until it isn’t. What do I mean? Your promotion job offer might come unexpectedly or unwelcomely. Maybe your new job title comes with a lot of tasks but an average salary. You’ll be doing more for less. 

If this is your case, then I’m here to show you how to decline a promotion due to salary the right way. I’ll also give you some samples of what you can say. But first I’ll walk you through some good reasons to reject a job offer. 

Read More: The Double-Edged Sword of Promotions: What Employers Need to Know

Good Reasons to Decline a Promotion Job Offer

Get this: Don’t decline a job offer just because you’re scared or it’s out of your comfort zone. Don’t even reject it if you think you’re underqualified. Those are not good reasons to turn down the offer. 

Instead, here are the times when it’s best to tell your manager that you need to decline a job promotion: 

  • The new salary offer is not great. Of course, let’s start with your dilemma. You find out that the salary increase is too low (or maybe none at all). Will it be worth doing extra tasks for an average salary range? If the answer is no, then you might want to politely decline the offer. 
  • The timing is bad. Another good reason to turn down a promotion is because of bad timing. It might be a promotion you dreamed about, but the circumstances don’t allow it. Let’s say you’re a working mom who needs to take care of her child during the nighttime. Well, a job promotion that requires you to travel to different cities regularly won’t do. 
  • You love your current role. What if you love your current role? Moreover, you know how to work well with your manager and team. Transitioning to a new role is not in your career goal book. You know that you will be able to excel more if you keep doing what you know so well. 
  • You’re not a manager. Yes, some workers prefer action-based roles to management roles. If you’re offered a management role, then you might want to decline the job promotion as it’s not your ideal career path. 
  • You’re not ready. Yes, I said that it’s not a good idea to turn down a job promotion if you think you’re not qualified. However, there are times when you’re just not ready. You need to improve your skills first if you want to do the new tasks perfectly. In this situation, you have to evaluate whether it’s because you’re really not ready or you’re scared to try. 
  • It upsets your work-life balance. If you want to stay productive and motivated, you need a healthy work-life balance. A study showed that 61% of workers won’t accept a job offer from a hiring manager if it disrupts their work-life balance. If the promotion ruins that, it might be a downfall rather than a “promotion”. 

Read More: 6 Powerful Tips On Asking For A Raise When A Coworker Quits

How to Turn Down a Promotion the Right Way

Wondering how to decline a promotion due to salary? I have some bad news for you. This is one of the more difficult reasons to get across. Here’s what Alison Doyle, a job search and career expert, says:

While this is a sound reason for declining a promotion, know that some tact will be required when you speak with your manager. You’ll need to make it clear that you’re not trying to avoid more responsibilities generally, and that you’re willing to pitch in to help the team hit its goals, even as you avoid taking on an entirely new role for no additional pay.

So if you’re declining due to low compensation, you must do it respectfully and gracefully. Here is how to decline a promotion politely when it comes to salary issues:

  1. Be grateful
  2. Ask for time to think about it
  3. Consider the consequences of saying no
  4. Decline the offer
  5. Provide your reasons
  6. Listen attentively
  7. Stick to your decision
  8. Express your desires

1. Be grateful

Even if you don’t like the job offer due to salary, it’s still a big thing that you were considered. Your manager or supervisor values you and your skills.

A McKinsey & Company research says that 41% of US workers quit their jobs due to a lack of career advancement. This means that not everyone can boast a promotion offer. 

So yes, you should express your thanks. Don’t forget to mention that you appreciate the company and the offer and that you enjoy working with the team. This is how to be positive and respectful. 

Read More: Good Performance Review But No Raise – Here’s What You Should Do

2. Ask for time to think about it

OK, you probably already made up your mind that you’re declining the offer (70% of employees are now saying ‘no’ to promotions). However, it’s a good idea to ask for more time to think about it. You should even ask for more details about the new role. 

The reason for this is that an immediate refusal can send the wrong message. Your supervisor might question your commitment or work ethic. Also, this is a good time to re-evaluate whether it’s really the best decision to decline the job offer or not.  

Read More: 10 Signs Your Boss Wants to Promote You + What You Should Do

3. Think about the consequences of saying no

Ask yourself, “What are the consequences of saying no?” What will your employer, manager, supervisor, or team think about you? Will they say that you’re being lazy or that you’re someone that knows that you’re needed in your current role? 

More than that, ask yourself why the company wants you in that new position. Maybe they’re changing the organizational structure and looking for a new sector to slot you in. If you decline, that could mean you’ll have to leave the company. 

These are important things to consider before making a final decision. You can talk openly to your manager about it and let them lead you to the best career move. 

4. Decline the offer

If after careful thought you stick to your original decision, it’s time to respectfully decline the offer. You need to use respectful and polite language. But be firm and confident in your decision. 

5. Provide your reasons

After you say that you decided to decline the promotion, you should follow that up with your reasons why. You need to be honest here but also try to maintain a good relationship with your boss. 

If it’s due to a low salary, you can give your concerns about the offered salary. Provide context for your decision without sounding critical. Mention your commitment to your current role and the value you bring to the team so that they know you’re not just avoiding more workload. 

6. Listen attentively

Very likely, your boss will try to make you reconsider. They’ll list down reasons why you should accept the offer. During this time, listen to them carefully. Don’t make your decision 100% final, they might still be able to convince you. 

Even if not, showing them that you’re listening attentively is a sign of respect. Sometimes, letting them know that you respect them, even if you don’t accept their offer, is a way to keep negative feelings out. 

7. Stick to your decision

When your boss is finished and you’re not convinced, you can state again that you’d rather not take the promotion. Again, go over your concerns and reasons. You need to stand firm on this decision. 

8. Express your desires

Here’s what the team says about ending this hard conversation:

Conclude the conversation by explaining how much you enjoy your current position. If you are interested in a promotion to a different position or another promotion offer later, after you’ve gained more experience, express that interest to your manager or boss.

If the reason is because the salary is too low, maybe you can ask for a salary negotiation. You can ask if it’s possible to negotiate a higher salary that can work for you both. However, you need to be very careful when you bring this up. Try to read your boss and see if that’s something that they would like to consider with you. 

Examples of How to Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary

Putting everything that we discussed, here is a sample template of what you should say when meeting with your supervisor or sending an email. 

Example 1

This sample is when you’re meeting in-person with your boss, manager, or supervisor:

“Thank you very much for considering me for this position! It’s a great honor and achievement that you recognize my commitment to your company. I want to continue to learn and grow here. However, after careful consideration, I have decided to decline due to concerns about the offered salary. I highly prioritize productivity and motivation. Taking on additional responsibilities without a proportional increase in salary creates a significant imbalance. As I assume more tasks and contribute to the growth of the team, a minimal pay raise makes it difficult to justify the added workload. This situation can lead to feelings of being undervalued and may impact job satisfaction. For me, striking a fair balance between increased responsibilities and reasonable compensation is crucial for maintaining motivation and a sense of equity in the workplace. While I’m declining due to salary considerations, I remain interested in contributing to the team’s success. I was really looking forward to this job opportunity, so I hope we can negotiate something.”

Example 2

What if you have to write an email response? You’ll be wondering how to decline a promotion due to salary via email. Well, here’s a sample letter:

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for offering me the recent promotion to [new position]. It’s truly an honor to be considered for this role, and I am grateful for the recognition of my contributions to the team.

After careful consideration and thoughtful reflection, I have decided to decline the promotion at this time. My decision is primarily influenced by considerations related to the offered salary. I believe that the proposed compensation does not align with the increased responsibilities associated with the new position.

I want to emphasize that my commitment to the team and our shared goals remains unwavering. I am dedicated to continuing my contributions in my current role and working collaboratively with the team to achieve our objectives.

I appreciate your understanding and hope for the opportunity to discuss this matter further if needed. I am open to any insights or considerations that may help find a resolution.

Thank you once again for your trust in my abilities and for considering me for this promotion. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the success of our team.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]

[Your Position]

[Your Contact Information]

Final Words

Not all promotions lead to career satisfaction. There are times when you might need to decline a promotion, whether because of the salary, family concerns, or different career goals. If you go with the first reason, you need to know how to decline a promotion due to salary to make it not look like you’re lazy or not committed. 

Follow the 7 ways to decline an offer, as well as the samples on what to say, if you want to maintain a positive work relationship with your boss, manager, or supervisor. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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