What to Do After You’re Passed Over For a Promotion

business discussion about promotion

No one likes hearing that they didn’t get that coveted promotion at work. Being passed over for a role can bring up all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions—it’s normal to feel resentful, discouraged, or anxious to find a new job right off the bat. Before you act, though, understand that this setback can (and should!) be viewed as an opportunity for career advancement and growth.

It’s normal to feel a loss of control when you learn that you were not given the position you’d been vying for. Whatever the reasons may have been, you should know that you are not alone in this experience (it happens all the time) and that you have the chance to use this setback to your advantage. Follow these steps to reset your frame of mind, regain your career confidence, and come back stronger than ever.

1. Take your time

It’s only natural to feel emotional when you’re passed up for a promotion, which is reason enough for pause. Before making your next move, take the time to process your feelings privately, and avoid making any rash decisions or venting your frustrations at work. Once you’ve taken the time to mull it over, you can approach the situation with a clear head—and a clearer plan of action.

2. Talk to the decision makers

Once you’re ready, ask a decision maker if they can share their feedback as to why you were passed up for the role. It’s important that you approach this meeting with a calm, professional demeanor and with the understanding that the information shared, while it may be hard to hear, will ultimately help you make the necessary changes to get your career where you want it to be. You may also find out that the decision maker has actionable tips for you to improve your candidacy for the next time around. Take these onboard with grace and you’ll make a good impression on the very person who will be a gatekeeper for future opportunities.

3. Do a little digging

Not all hiring managers will be clear with you about why you didn’t get promoted. It could be that “grey area” factors, like office politics, affected how you were viewed as a fit for the role, and you may not be able to extract such information in a formal meeting. That’s why it helps to consult a trusted colleague outside the position’s hiring team for insights and advice. Ask for their candid, honest impression and be ready to put it into perspective.

4. Remain poised for career advancement

While you may feel disheartened or unmotivated, it’s in your best interest to save face at work. Acting with poise and grace rather than sulking after a setback positions you to be seen as a leader, and it goes a long way toward making a lasting positive impression at work. Impressions follow you, whether you choose to go for a future promotion or leave the company (and add all of those past colleagues to your network).

5. Find the silver lining

Many successful people would recall that their biggest setback turned into their greatest opportunity. Try to frame your own situation in this way. Dig into the reasons why you wanted the role in the first place, and continue to pursue them separately. Perhaps a better position will present itself that you wouldn’t have been open to otherwise. At the very least, being passed up for a promotion can serve as a catalyst for you to take further action toward career advancement.

6. Nurture your network

As the cards unfold, you could start to see a new path for yourself at your company—or you may come to the realization that it’s time to move on. In either scenario, you’ll want to bolster your professional network. Within the   networking at workorganization, identify key relationships that can influence the areas of opportunity that you see for yourself. If you’ve decided to look outside the organization, having a strong network is even more crucial. Let your network know you’re looking so that when the right opportunity comes along, you won’t miss it.

7. Remember your value

Asking for a promotion is not easy to do, and you should take pride in your decision to advocate for yourself. Remember how you prepared yourself to ask for the promotion? All of the positive attributes that came up when you considered your readiness for the role? They haven’t gone away, and now you can use them to craft a compelling resume for your next opportunity. You deserve to get what you want out of your career, whether that’s at your current employer or in an exciting new role somewhere else.

Ready to take the next step in your career? A Career Coach can help!

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