When They Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse- Or Can You?

Posted on April 17, 2014.

Long before telecommuting, Skype, and go2meeting, companies would think nothing of asking an employee to re-locate for a job. In fact, many still do.  And when the request fulfills your personal aspirations, no problem. Heck, they’ll even pay to move you. But what if your boss asks you to take a job you don’t want?

Many years ago, I was asked to relocate to Florida to head up a business unit that, frankly, I knew little about. On the one hand, I was flattered that the company had that much confidence in me. On the other hand, I didn’t want to live in Florida and wasn’t sure if saying “no” was a career ender. At the time, my HR partners were applying a lot of pressure and using phrases like; “this will be the last time they consider promoting you if you don’t go”. Or, “this is a great opportunity for you to lead a larger group.” But companies never seem to ask the only questions that matter:

·      How will this affect your family?

·      What are your concerns about relocating?

·      Is this a job that interests you and helps you get to where you want to be?

Over the years, I’ve had more than a few friends uproot their lives, and that of their families, only to be laid off within a relatively short period of time.  So while making certain sacrifices may really payoff, it may not.  Whether you’re asked to actually move or just asked to do a job you don’t really want, what are your options?

1.    Quit. The most extreme solution, and one I wouldn’t recommend, unless you’ve sensed they were going to ask you.  Only resort to this if you don’t like the company culture or you’ve already lined up another job.

2.    Take the job.  It is possible that you’ll end up really liking the new job or the new location.  And if you have to relocate, you’ll probably be working so many hours, you won’t care about the fact that all your friends and most of your family are miles away. Your immediate family may even want to move with you.

3.    Say no.  There really is a risk to saying “no”. The HR folks in my ear were not kidding. It was a very long time before I was offered another promotion.  Companies, especially large ones, seem to have very long memories and take rejection very personally.  But if you love the job you have, then saying “no” is a viable option.

4.    Offer a compromise. If you’re being asked to relocate, instead of uprooting your whole family, ask to commute. Super Commuters are on the rise. If it doesn’t burden your family too much, it’s an option.  If you don’t have to move, but want to limit the amount of time you commit to the new role, then get them to agree to it in writing. Tell them you’ll help out but you want to be offered something else within a period of time. Be specific about both the timeline and the opportunities that interest you. Parlay the sacrifice into something that will benefit you in the end.

The colleagues I’ve worked with that employed #4, advanced their careers at lightning speed. The key to any internal offer, or your entire career for that matter, is that you control your own destiny. Think about it, most of us wouldn’t think of letting other people decide how we raise our children, which friends we make, where we go to school. So why would you let someone else make decisions about your livelihood?