Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Hypothetical: Is Passing on a Promotion to Manager Because It Requires Relocation a Career Limiting Move?

Ed. Note: Have a question for the Going Concern career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Dear GC,

I’ve been a reader of GC for a while. Thank you for the great advice you posted throughout the years!

Hypothetical situation: I’m a tax senior in a big public accounting firm. I’m doing well but I wasn’t promoted to manager this year because promotion requires that I relocate to another region and my family can’t move. In this situation, what can I do to help advance my career? Should I patiently toil for another few years until a spot opens up in my region? It seems like jumping into industry without a “manager” title will set me back significantly. Going to a competitor to get promoted also seems unlikely because I haven’t proven myself to the new employer. Would I literally be sacrificing my career for family in this case?

I am a young woman starting her career in tax in a public accounting firm. I saw others going through situation and I see myself running into this situation in a few years. Just want to ask this question so I know what to expect ahead of time.

Thanks for your advice!

Dear Hypothetical Tax Senior,

At the end of the day, this is a personal issue for you and your family to sort through. However, I hope the following points (and the GC community) can help you in your decision.

Things to consider:

1. Your professional network. How closely do you work with employees in this hypothetical office? Will you be able to move there before being promoted? Chances are, your network there is limited, so you will have to connect with and establish your credibility with an entire new office. Combine this with balancing the new responsibilities of being a manager and helping your family adjust to a new home, and you could be facing a steep learning curve, both professionally and personally.

2. Seek advice. Talk to your mentors about this. Is this a regular issue in your office? Have others before you made been in a similar situation, and if so, what did they decide to do? Is this a one year issue or is the possibility of being promoted to manager a distant possibility?

3. Look around you. Not in the job market sense but in the “how top heavy is my practice?” sense. Are managers currently doing the work of staff members because there is not enough to go around at the top? Is HR hiring into your group or have things been stagnant for awhile? Has your office lost a deal of client work to competition?

4. Look around again. Now I mean in the job market. All things considered, you need to do what’s best for your family. In that, you should be weighing ALL options. Jumping ship without the manager title is not necessarily a Scarlett Letter; it is something that can be explained in an interview at the very least.