Passed Over For a Promotion? What To Do About It

 In Career Tips, Company Culture/People At Work, Leadership

Passed Over For a Promotion? What To Do About ItMany of us have been there. We knew we were under consideration for a promotion, we got our hopes up, but at the end of the day, someone else was promoted, not us.

So once you have finished licking your wounds, what should you do next? Is there anything that you can do to increase your chances of being promoted the next time?

Here are some steps you can take to learn from this experience and grow from it:

1) Find out exactly what management considers necessary to make you worthy of promotion. You need specifics. Is it your education level? Do you need a certification? Is it your lack of managerial or supervisory experience?

2) Do your own due diligence. Your manager will no doubt give you the official answer, so it is to your benefit to check out the credentials of the person who actually got the job. In some cases, the fact that you were not promoted really doesn’t have anything to do with credentials. It may have much more to do with fit. If this is the case, you may have to work harder at improving your relationships with management so that they will see you as worthy of promotion.

3) Swallow your pride and ask your manager what you could do differently next time. First though, you need to think through your approach. It isn’t just about the questions that you ask. It’s also about how you ask them. You may need to practice with a friend first to make sure that you are coming across as genuinely wanting to know how you can improve instead of coming across as bitter because you didn’t get the job.

Here are some questions to pose:

  • I was very interested in the ___________ position. I know that _____________ was chosen for the position, and I respect your decision. I’d really like to know what I can do be more competitive for a promotion the next time around. Could you please tell me what types of things I need to work on to boost my chances of being selected for a promotion in the future?
  • Are there any classes that I can take or certifications that I can obtain?
  • Are there any soft skills that I could work on that would boost my candidacy (i.e., negotiation, communication, networking)?
  • How can I best align my skill set with where the organization is going in the future?

It is also worth your time to consider reasons that you may have been passed up for the promotion.

  • The company may have wanted to get talent from the outside because they want a fresh perspective.
  • You may not have been at the company long enough to have insider knowledge of how the company functions.
  • You might not have sufficient managerial or supervisory experience.
  • Your education level may not be considered sufficient.
  • You may be technically competent but lack soft skills.

Doing some self assessment to determine why you were not promoted and then working on these issues will help you to use this experience as a steppingstone. Instead of wallowing in self pity and resentment, you can work on becoming more promotable, either in your current organization or elsewhere.

Cheryl Palmer is a career expert who has regularly been quoted in The Ladders, the Wall Street Journal, CBS MoneyWatch, and CNN Money.  She is a career coach, resume writer, and LinkedIn expert.  Download 5 Master Strategies to Land a Job Through Social Media at

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