If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Career Tips

How to decide if you should accept a promotion

by Brought to you by ACS Careers
May 23, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 16


A woman in a lab coat stands on a puzzle piece looking ahead at a staircase leading into the unknown.

When you’ve been in the same position for a significant time, there’s a likely chance that you will be presented with an opportunity to advance. While this is a compliment to your skills and abilities, it’s worth taking time to decide if you want to stay in a role in which you’ve demonstrated success and may feel quite comfortable—or step into the unknown and take on a new challenge.

Do you want to move up? It’s always flattering to receive an offer because it means others recognize your talents, but is it really something you want to do? Are you excited about the possibilities and already planning how to approach the new position, or are you talking yourself into taking it? While your first reaction does not need to be your final decision, taking note of your gut reaction when you were first asked can help you reflect on your true feelings about the offer.

Can you be successful? Why is the position open? Did the previous person move up in the organization, or did they move on because it was impossible to succeed or the position was not a good fit for them? Conduct an honest assessment of your skills and interests and determine if they are a match for the new position. Just because you were successful working at the lab bench does not mean you will be a great people manager—but then again, you might be.

How will your previous position fare without you? If you accept the new position, your current position will have a vacuum. How will it be filled? Do you have a team with a successor in mind who can easily step in? Or have you been looking for a reason to bring in someone from the outside with a fresh perspective? While it’s gratifying to think that you are personally responsible for accomplishments made while you were in this position and that everything will fall apart if you leave, part of your responsibility is ensuring that doesn’t happen.

Will you regret it if you say yes—or no? You should not accept a new role simply out of obligation; if you are not excited about the position, you’re not likely to do a good job. On the other hand, you should not turn down an opportunity just because you don’t know if you can do it. You won’t know unless you try. Can you identify times in the past when you’ve done something similar? Did you succeed and enjoy the work? If you say no to the position now, is the opportunity likely to come around again?

Ask for advice. Consult your mentors, peers, and others whose advice you respect. Think about people who have moved along the path you’re considering and ask them for their opinion. If they know you well, they should be able to give an honest and informed opinion of how well you would do in that role.

Once you have carefully considered all the information available to you, make your decision and don’t look back. Make a plan for a smooth transition of your old responsibilities to your successor and for learning as much as you can about your new duties as quickly as possible. Then, move ahead and do the very best job you can—until the next opportunity comes along.

Get involved in the discussion. The ACS Career Tips column is published monthly in C&EN. Send your comments and ideas for topics for future columns to


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.