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7 Reasons You Didn’t Get That Promotion

Topics: Career Advice
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Image Credit: Pexels / bruce mars

These days, the average person goes through about 12 job changes over the course of a career. Change is to be expected. It’s even desirable. So, it can feel pretty lousy when you’re hoping to be promoted and are turned down.

It can be really disappointing to be passed over for a big promotion. Especially if you had been feeling pretty sure you were going to get it. You might find yourself wondering why the decision landed where it did. There are a lot of different possibilities. Here are a few reasons why you may have been turned down.

1. You’re not quite ready

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you didn’t receive this promotion, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never move up the ranks of your organization. Perhaps you’re just not quite ready to take the plunge just yet. Consider meeting with your employer to discuss what you might work on in order to meet your goals.

2. Bias

Women and people of color are passed over for promotions at rates that suggest bias, whether conscious or unconscious, simply must be at play. A recent study of 222 companies published by and the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., found that women are hired and promoted at lower rates than men. At the senior level, the promotion gap is even more pronounced for women of color. They also found that these differences can’t be attributed to attrition. Women and men leave companies at about the same rate.

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3. You’re not bringing anything new to the table

Here’s the thing, simply fitting in and doing your job well isn’t going to earn you a promotion. You have stand out in some way in order to move up the ranks. This isn’t just about going above and beyond the call of duty, or putting in long hours. It’s about bringing something new and interesting to the table, an idea, an attitude, that your company can’t find anywhere else. People who are seen as indispensable and unique are more likely to earn promotions than others.

4. They have other plans for you

Don’t be so quick to decide that being passed over for this promotion is definitely a bad thing. It is possible that your company’s leaders have another plan for you. Maybe they know something you don’t know about the future of the company and how you might play a different role in the years to come. It wouldn’t hurt to schedule a meeting to discuss your ambitions and feel out their plans for your future there.

5. The person who got the job is exceptional

Keep in mind that you weren’t the only person to get passed over for this promotion. Perhaps it’s not so much that you didn’t deserve the opportunity as that the other candidate definitely did. Try not to take it too personally. You may not have done anything wrong. It might be that another candidate did a lot of things exceptionally right.

6. You came off as entitled rather than enthusiastic

One sure way to get passed over for a promotion is to act as though you’re entitled to one. Just because you’ve done your current job well for a certain number of years that doesn’t mean you’ll be promoted. Did you seem enthusiastic about taking on new challenges and responsibilities when you applied for this promotion or spoke with your boss about your future with the company? Or, did you come off as though you felt you deserved the job and didn’t have to go that far?

7. They think you might move on soon

Changing employers is totally normal. In fact, the average worker in the US has only been with their current employer for 4.6 years. Still, if your company knows for sure that you plan to leave them in the near future, they likely won’t be thinking long-term either. If you would like to stick around, be sure your employer knows how you feel. It’s always a good idea to schedule a meeting to talk about future goals and objectives from time to time.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you recently been turned down for a promotion? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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