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How to Decline a Lateral Job Move

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When you take a new job you're willingly inviting in a lot of turmoil, which may be worth it if you're going to be earning more money and getting a new, more prestigious title. But if the move is more of a lateral one -- meaning you're essentially staying at the same pay grade -- it may not be worth the effort. Whether the proposed lateral move is within your current company or with a new employer, weigh the pros and cons carefully before you decline the offer.


When you move into a new department or an entirely new company, you're going to be working with a lot of new faces. If you're bored to pieces with your current job and your co-workers, this will give you a chance to make a fresh start and try something new. If you make a lateral move within your own company, you're showing your employer that you're a diverse worker with a myriad of skills -- something that could make you eligible for promotion later on. Also consider other pros particular to the job in question, such as a shorter commute or duties that more closely match your skill set.


If you've listed all the pros and still think the lateral move is not a good choice, weighing the cons will help you formulate a good speech to give your employer. The biggest con of that lateral move: no more money, and no additional perks. On top of that, you have to get to know the nuances of the new job, learn to fit in with your new co-workers, and possibly figure out a new commute and a new health insurance policy. If you're considering moving within the same company, your lateral move could also paint you as someone who's not promotable, advises Randall S. Hansen of Quintessential Careers. If your current employer suggests the move, it puts you in a very sticky situation indeed, since your employer's request may be more of a disguised demand that you move jobs.

Ask for More

If you're still leaning toward turning down the job, you don't have much to lose in making a counter-offer that helps to sweeten the deal just a little. A slight pay increase is one thing to ask for, but also consider other perks such as a signing bonus, health club membership, company car or even a better office. Put your counter-offer in writing and then ask for an in-person meeting with the hiring manager. During your conversation, tactfully explain some of the reasons why you're leaning toward turning down the job. Then present your counter-offer and cross your fingers.

The Letdown

If your counter-offer doesn't work or you already know you want to turn down the offer, it's time for another cordial discussion with the hiring manager. At this point you don't need to meet in person, but make a phone call instead of writing an email, advises The Ladders careers website. Thank the hiring manager for the opportunity to get this far in the process, and then let her know you've decided to turn down the offer. In some cases, the fact that you declined the offer may make the employer turn around and give you some of the perks you asked for. The hiring process can be costly for an employer, and starting over in the search may be more trouble than the bump in pay you asked for. In any case, maintain a positive, professional attitude at all times. If you're turning down a lateral move within your own company, your decision may not be well-received at all, and you may want to consider a backup plan, that is, looking for another job at a new company.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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