Let's look at some reasons you might hesitate to take an offered promotion:
While it's flattering to be told that you're doing a phenomenal job, realize that if you're content in your current job, a promotion might stretch you beyond capacity. If you're overstressed and overworked, the extra earnings won't be worth it.
A promotion often means you'll start managing a team. For some, this is a great step up. But others might have no interest in or ability to supervise. Doing well at your last job doesn't entitle you to supervise others.
Before accepting a promotion, make sure you understand your prospective role and responsibilities. If possible, talk to the last person who had this position so that you get the real scoop.
Your Work-Life Balance
Climbing the corporate ladder isn't for everyone, nor is it for every phase of your life. If you're in a "stop and smell the roses" phase rather than one focused on money and success, a promotion may disrupt your current plans.
Promotions often mean you'll spend more time in the office than ever. The extra time you spent with your family, reading or traveling may now be put into your new job, and you may feel a shift in your work-life balance.
Examine your own priorities to decide whether it's the right time in your life to take on a bigger chunk of work and responsibility, or whether you'd rather have more time to do the things you love in your personal life.
When You're Switching Companies
Naturally, you'd like a pay raise when transitioning to a new company. But until you get a sense of what this company will expect from you, moving into a higher role too soon may wear you out. Not all positions and titles are created equal, so being promoted to a new role at a different company might be more than you can handle.
To avoid the "sink or swim" scenario, many employers prefer to hire you in a similar role (even when their title structure differs) that allows you to excel quickly. If you really feel like you're ready to assume the additional responsibility, you can negotiate during the offer process to have a formal review in your first six months. And if you perform at an advanced level, you can qualify for a raise.
If you're offered a promotion, thank your boss, ask questions, and give it a significant amount of thought. If you decide to turn it down because it's not aligned with your personal and professional goals, do so gracefully and keep the door open for future consideration.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.