When you are offered a lateral job move that doesn't mesh well with your career goals and interests, hesitating to decline is understandable, but the decision to refuse is yours to make. After giving the offer careful consideration and examining your clear and specific reasons for not wanting to accept the position, you need to notify your employer of your choice immediately. The key thing to remember is to handle the situation with tact so that you stay in good standing with your employer.

Make a list of reasons why you are declining the lateral job move. Reasons could be that it will prevent you from achieving your goals in your current career path; there is a chance of failure and job loss and that the position holds no interest for you.

Write a letter explaining your reasons for declining. Begin with a statement that expresses how much you appreciate being considered for the opportunity. Follow up with specific reasons why you don't want to accept the lateral move.

Make an appointment with the person who offered you the lateral move, such as your immediate supervisor, so that you can explain your position.

State to your employer that, after careful consideration, you are declining the lateral move and explain the reasons why. Tell your supervisor that you enjoy working with the company and sincerely appreciate the offer, but it's just not the right move for you at this time.

Give your employer a copy of your letter and give a copy to the human resources department of your organization, if appropriate.


Make an effort to keep your performance level high so that your employer won't have a reason to doubt your commitment to the company.


While not pleasant to consider, sometimes refusing a lateral move can result in a change of dynamic between you and your superiors. Their perception of you, however erroneous it may be, may change, and they may treat you differently. Ensure that you make your reasons for declining the lateral move as rational and clear as possible.