I've been offered a promotion that, for a large number of reasons, I have no interest in taking. I had actually already decided to leave my current company, and my rejection really only accelerates my departure.

The position does represent what should be the next step in my career, but I am not going to make that step with this employer. I would, however, still like to make it as soon as possible.

I want to do my best to use this promotion as leverage when seeking a new position over the next couple of months -- to help me find a position similar title- and responsibility-wise to the offer, rather than to my current job.

"Offered a promotion" doesn't seem like an appropriate point to put on a résumé, or even in a cover letter, although I would like to make it known as early as possible in the application process -- I'm likely to have a lot of competition. (I should perhaps also note that I've previously held a position similar to the offered one, which does appear on my résumé.) I can certainly get into it during the interview, but I don't know how much detail to provide a potential employer about my reasons for refusing.

How can I best use this offer, during any stage of my search, to get a more satisfactory offer somewhere else?

  • 6
    Why you're leaving (or left) any job doesn't seem like something you'd want to include in your introductory material.
    – Blrfl
    Feb 21, 2013 at 20:45
  • 1
    Finding a place to work it in early seems to me like trying to answer a question that wasn't asked. That plus your other question would seem to be a recipe for a good reply: "I'm bored with what I'm doing, and the only way they could offer to get out of it was a promotion into a position I found unsatisfactory."
    – Blrfl
    Feb 21, 2013 at 21:42
  • 3
    In all the hiring I've done through the years, I can't think of any time when I would have considered being offered and turning down a promotion to be a selling point for a candidate. Why do you think it would be?
    – HLGEM
    Feb 21, 2013 at 21:51
  • 3
    Yes but that point is negated by the fact you turned it down.
    – HLGEM
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:09
  • 3
    You would've made better use of the promotion by taking it and then using the new role as a bargaining chip. You'll at least command a higher pay rate and the same position elsewhere. You known what they say about a bird in hand
    – kolossus
    Feb 25, 2013 at 2:17

6 Answers 6


The only way to use this as an advantage in an interview is to answer the question "Why are you looking to leave your current company?". People ask this question a lot.

I would suggest the following as an answer:

"They are attempting to give me more responsibility, and in fact trying to promote me. I feel that I could comfortabely stay there, and they do find me valuable.... BUT:"

And then you fill in the real reasons why you are leaving, such as

  • The remuneration is not rising in accordance with the increased responsibility
  • My career goals do not line up with the path that I'm on in this company

Whatever happens to be your situation.

The reason why this is a good selling point is that it demonstrates that you are not leaving out of necessity and that you are valuable. As an employer, wouldn't you rather hire people that have options and are making a choice to work for you rather than people who just need a job?

  • 1
    I think this answer does a good job of answering the question that was asked, whereas most other answers seem to answer a slightly different question. Feb 23, 2013 at 16:13
  • In fact, bullet point number one was a major factor in my decision to reject the offer. The salary proposal would have needed to be multiplied by about 175% just to match my current wage, and that doesn't even factor in my knowledge, based on observation of the position over the previous year, that the estimated weekly hours in the proposal were low by at least 10%.
    – user3511
    Mar 30, 2013 at 19:19

A candidate mentioning a promotion that they didn't take in a cover letter, resume or an interview just doesn't sit right with me as an interviewer. You would be effectively saying "Hey, you should hire me for this job because someone else wanted to, but I told them no." As an interviewer, I can then either explore that topic and expect you to dodge the numerous interview land-mines about things like speaking negatively about passed employers which is boring and unnecessarily tricky, or I can ignore it and then it provides no real value.

I would focus on your actual experience and actual ability to do the position. If you've held a similar position in the past and clearly can do the job based on that experience, then you should focus on that desire, experience and ability.

  • I've already said that I understand the résumé and cover letter are not the right places. Can you explain the difference for an interviewer between "You should hire me for this job because <third company> wanted to" and You should hire me for this job because my current employer wanted to"? In other words, how is an internal job offer different from any other company's job offer?
    – user3511
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:31
  • My point is to not focus on the "offer" aspect of anything in your history and only focus on what you've actually done. It sounds like you've been offered this job twice. Once you accepted it and once you didn't. Only focus on your experience from the job you accepted. Note, that's not to say that you can't talk about experiences in your current position that are beneficial to this new job.
    – Jacob G
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:41
  • @JoshCaswell: neither "<third company> wanted to" nor "my current employer wanted to" would be of any interest to me as an interviewer. If you want me to hire you to do a job you've never done before, you need to convince me of your capabilities, not just say "well I managed to convince some other guy". Feb 22, 2013 at 2:31
  • 1
    Sorry, but this simply doesn't square with other search/negotiation advice I've seen, including on this very site: The "are you interviewing with any other companies" question, How to use multiple offers to negotiate a higher salary?, Do you consider counter offers when recruiting experienced workers?.
    – user3511
    Feb 22, 2013 at 3:01
  • I'm willing to accept "there's no useful way to use this offer" as an answer, but not without justification. Please help me understand why you think an offer for a similar position is not a fact that I can use my favor during my job search. Right now your answer only consists of an alternative action, not reasoning. The fact of the other offer can easily be mentioned without it being necessary for me to even state that I've decided not to take it, let alone going into the reasons why.
    – user3511
    Feb 22, 2013 at 3:03


I see what you are getting at.

First, you want to point out that you are qualified for the position by the fact that you did it in the past and was also offered the position again. This shows you are most desirable for the position, relative to others. So, on the cover letter, could put something to the effect "experience with and other positions offered in the same title".

For the interview, it is possible they may not even ask why you rejected or left, as your cover letter didn't state that either.

If you are asked, turn it around:

Keep it short, sweet, simple and canned. The canned response, in an already artificial interview process, is to state that you declined because "this is the company you want to work for". State how having the position here is better aligned with your skills, and that your skill will benefit them even more, vs. someone else they are going to interview - who did not get the opportunity to turn down a similar position. Show them you want to do this title their way and are willing to work harder because you are much more passionate to have the title here. It shows you have choices, are desired, are ready and qualified for the position here.


If the information isn't in the resume or cover letter it doesn't help get the interview.

Once you are in the interview they will likely ask why you are leaving. The reason for leaving is valid. But the comment about rejecting the doesn't seem to help. Unless there was an additional obligation involved in accepting the offer:

  • I would have to move to another city.
  • I would have to make 4 year commitment.
  • I would have to take 6 month training course

or you had to reject it due to a medical reason.

The problem with saying that you rejected the promotion is that there might not be any evidence, many times HR will just confirm the basic facts: period of performance and final position title. Your claim might be viewed as an exaggeration. Maybe you rejected the opportunity to compete for the promotion, or decided against it just before the final interview.

Lets assume that you can craft a statement in the resume or cover letter that will express the information you want in the way that you want. I am not sure how it helps. Because I can't see how it makes me see you as somebody who wants to join my company on my project.

If the promotion was offered between the date of application and the interview, then you might be able to use it. Though I think there have been questions on this site about how to use a recent pay raise to ask for a bigger offer.

If you are rejecting the promotion even though there is no added commitments, other than you don't see your self with them forever, you might want to accept the promotion. The acceptance doesn't lock you in with them for more years. Meanwhile start looking for the a new job. In the resume and cover letter and at those interviews you can say I am currently an X at my current company.


The short answer is: This is not a selling point.

It makes you look really bad to a potential employer if you tell them, "Yes I was offered that position with my current company, but I decided to see if I could find the same position else where."

There are very few reasons that an employer finds acceptable for turning down a promotion or even lateral move. And even those are not positives they are understandable. When selling yourself to an employer you want to accentuate your positives.

Accepting the promotion, even for a short period of time that you remain working there would have been a better option. Companies love the opportunity to hire away rising talent. They are not looking for people who aspire to stay in the same position until they decide to leave.

So your best course of action now is to pretend like the promotion was never offered and sell yourself to a potential employer for you.


Use it as part of your explanation about why you're leaving. A key here is to not make the company or your boss look bad. Indicate things were going well. Being offered a promotion is clearly a sign of that.

You can still state your reasons for leaving without sounding bitter. Also, I think it shows a sense of decency that you declined a promotion knowing you are leaving.

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