Make us your home page

Career Q&A: Turn that promotion around, not down

Q: I work for a driven nonprofit. I have twice passed up the opportunity to apply for a promotion I likely would have received. My peers, staff and many of our organization's supporters would like to see me in that role and have encouraged me to go for it. The time requirements for the position are demanding, and my personal schedule just can't accommodate those demands. I have a toddler, and my husband has an unusual schedule; taking such a position would require me to hire a babysitter several times a week, which I'm not willing to do. All that aside, simply put: I'm happy doing what I do now.

Although I have told people I am content in my current role, I am being "groomed" for future opportunities, and when my situation changes, I may be open to them. Yet people express dismay at my present lack of desire to advance. When I mention my child or my schedule, I am met with groans and looks of scornful disappointment, and suggestions to hire a nanny or move closer to work. How can I tactfully put this situation to rest?

A: "I'm waiting until Spike is in kindergarten," with a smile, followed by a change of subject. Bonus points if Spike is a girl.

You're a parent with a full-time day job. You have every right to decline to take on more — no matter how many helpful suggestions you receive on how to upend your budget and living situation to suit someone else's idea of where you should be. End of story.

Although . . . it sounds as if you're a bit of a rock star at work. That might give you leverage to make any promotion meet your requirements — not the other way around.

Let's dream: What would help that promotion work for you? A transition period working part time in the new role? Working from home? Dedicated administrative support? Your choice of focus? Maybe management would turn those down — or maybe it would find a way to make them happen for a rock star.

I know you don't need anyone telling you which direction to lean. And I'm not trying to. It's just that I can't get past this study by Hewlett-Packard I read about, showing that women applied for openings only if they thought they were 100 percent qualified. Meanwhile, their male colleagues went after jobs they felt at least 60 percent qualified for.

You know better than I what this job requires and what you can currently offer. But when your situation changes, who knows if the opportunity will still be there? Often, the only opportunities we're 100 percent ready for are ones we've already outgrown.

Are cells a 24-hour leash to work?

Q: Occasionally, I read about companies requiring employees to be available by cellphone after hours. I can't afford a cell because I have other financial priorities. I've always taken jobs that are generally 8 to 5, Monday to Friday, and strongly believe that my personal hours are mine. Is filtering out a job candidate for this discriminatory?

A: It might seem intrusive, but employment attorney Elaine Fitch says claiming that this policy violates the rights of a protected group —such as members of a certain race, age, faith or sex — would be a tough sell. As Fitch points out, "almost everyone has a cellphone these days." Even individuals on federal assistance can get help obtaining wireless service through the government's "Lifeline" program (

If cost is your main concern, the right employer might be willing to provide you a phone or partial reimbursement for your own phone.

In some cases, on-call time is considered payable work time. But even if it doesn't qualify as such, being on call is the price many are willing to pay for added responsibility and flexible hours. If you consider any after-hours leash a dealbreaker, you're free to turn down those jobs.

Career Q&A: Turn that promotion around, not down 11/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 6:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  4. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  5. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.