What Should You Do If You Are Passed Over For A Promotion?

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

Losing out on a promotional opportunity at work to another colleague can be a painful experience. You may feel slighted, unappreciated or discouraged. Many people find themselves angry enough to consider leaving the company altogether.

Before you decide to jump ship after getting passed over for a promotion, take the time to reflect and regroup. Doing so may help you to become an even stronger employee.

Control Your Emotions

You are likely feeling a slew of emotions after finding out you didn’t get the new job you wanted. Being angry and upset is a completely rational response. However, it is important to know when and where to show those emotions.

Ranting and raving in the office or at your boss is not going to help your situation at all. In fact, your superiors will likely look at your behavior and pat themselves on the back for not choosing you. Take the time you need to control your anger and frustration. If you have to step away from your desk or even take a personal day, do it.

Your anger and frustration may eventually lead to feeling sad or dejected. It does you no favors to openly mope around the office or tell your co-workers how sad you are. Not being able to handle rejection may be seen as a negative trait by your superiors and co-workers.

Be Professional

The colleague who beat you out for the promotion may still work closely with you or even become your direct supervisor. You risk sabotaging your own reputation if you act in any way unprofessional towards him/her.

Be gracious and congratulate them on their promotion like the rest of your colleagues do.

It may be tough to swallow your pride, those you work with will see just how civil you can be. Especially if you and your colleagues agree that the person may have been less than deserving of a promotion.

Ask Yourself What You Want

Before you start trying to figure out why you didn’t get the promotion, ask yourself why you wanted the promotion. Was it just because your colleagues told you to apply? Did it seem to be the next logical step in your career? Or, did you really think you could make impactful change in the new role?

Understanding why you wanted the promotion and what your intentions were will help you move forward after the rejection. This understanding will also assist you when seeking feedback from the decision makers in your organization.

Ask For Feedback

Once you are able to get past the sting of rejection, take the opportunity to learn from the experience. Ask for a chance to sit down with your boss (or whoever made the final decision) so you can get some insight into the process. Once you understand who the decision makers were, it will be easier to seek direct feedback about how you might be able to improve.

Knowing exactly what put another colleague ahead of you for a promotion will help you direct your focus in the future. If a degree or a specific certification held you back, you know have that information to decide whether you want to make the investment in pursuing additional educational opportunities. If it was just a matter of years of experience, you can ask for guidance on how to grow your skillset over the next couple of years.

Not knowing why you were passed over for a promotion won’t help you become a better leader, employee or team member. Understanding how you can continue to grow will help you become an asset to your company in the future.

Be Proactive

Now that you know what caused you to lose out on the promotion, do something with the information. Based on the feedback you were given, you should have an idea what the hiring managers considered your weaknesses to be as well as your strengths.

Seek out trainings or additional work that will make you visible to the leaders of your organization. The more they see you trying to improve, the more likely your name may be on the top of the list for the next promotional opportunity.

Think About Your Next Step

Not getting promoted isn’t the end of your career. In fact, you can take the negative experience and turn it in to a positive learning opportunity within your current organization.

Set a timeline for yourself and decide if you will stay with your company and continue to grow, or if it is time to seek new opportunities elsewhere. If you work with a small organization that rarely has promotional opportunities come around, losing out might make you realize that your future with the company is limited.

Should you decide to leave your current company after gracefully accepting rejection and seeking feedback for improvement, it is likely that management will respect and understand your decision. Instead of leaving a company resentfully, you are able to part on good terms and with a larger professional network.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
LinkedIn

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees.

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