Steps to Take When Getting Passed Over for a Promotion

    2 min read time

    Oh I think we have all been there. We know we are doing an amazing job at work. We’ve been complimented by peers and cross-department managers. We’ve been invited to lead challenging projects and have succeeded. Then we walk into our managers’ office and have the tough discussion about getting a promotion. Perhaps it’s one that everyone knows is available. Perhaps it’s a position you want to create or be groomed to move into. Or maybe you just want a raise!


    The time comes and you are passed over. You know you deserved the promotion. But this rejection can be demoralizing and discouraging. Easier said, but try to remember that this decision isn’t necessarily personal or a reflection of the level of work you are doing at the company. Sometimes, these decisions are a result of budget limitations, politics or staffing levels. 


    Here are a few things you CAN do after not receiving that promotion: job-market-frustration


    1. Let yourself feel your feelings
      Feelings are legit and justifiable. Allow yourself some time to process the disappointment, frustration and anger. Talk to a friend about it. Go workout. Be active. Journal.

    2. Assess your request for the promotion
      What is behind your feelings? Would this have been your dream job? A better title? Or is this due to not getting the salary bump you need? If you’re happy with the type of work you’re doing, but want more money, it may make more sense for you to switch companies. If the promotion would have required you to have new, different skills that you want to develop, you might look for ways to add those skills to your toolbox.

      Try to look at the situation from an outsider’s point of view. Did you deserve the promotion? If you’re doing the work that’s in your current job description—but aren’t going above and beyond—it may make sense why you didn’t get promoted. And, if you asked in an entitled way and did not provide a solid case for why you merit a promotion, that might be a clue as to why you did not get it.

    3. Request feedback from your manager
      This is going to be tough. They just rejected your request for a promotion, so you may have some resentment. Take a couple of days and then request feedback as to why you didn’t receive the promotion and what can make you eligible for one in the future. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing critiques and you need to be ok with that. But, it’s also possible you’ll get actionable insight. Maybe you’re missing a core skill that you can get through taking a class or volunteering for a new project. Or perhaps your work in one particular area needs improvement.

    4. Plan your career steps and strategy
      If you feel that the promotion still may be in the cards for you, great! Establish a timeline to make the necessary changes, then set a date with your manager to make the request again.

      Otherwise, it's time to start with updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, and get on that job search. You deserve more!