How to Avoid Being Passed Over for a Promotion

By September 7, 2023 Self Management Tips

Have you ever been passed over for a promotion? Whether this has happened to you in the past or is something you’d like to avoid in the future, it’s a daunting prospect to put yourself out there only to be shot down. But is being overlooked for a promotion a reason to quit your job, or are other factors at play? Here’s what you need to know:

A young man rubs his nose after being passed over for a promotion

So why do I keep being overlooked for promotion?

Getting passed over for a promotion can shake your confidence, but there’s no cause for immediate alarm. Instead, there are concrete steps you can take to improve your performance and get a better idea of your future trajectory at your workplace. So here are some things to consider if you fear being denied a promotion.

  1. Please take a look for feedback and be open to constructive criticism. You should do this immediately after being passed over for a promotion, but you should also be in regular contact with your higher-ups to hear about your performance all year. Please ask for regular performance reviews and genuinely be open to the feedback you receive.
  2. Communicate your goals to your boss. Make sure that your manager knows that you’re aiming for a promotion. Create career goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Ask what benchmarks you need to reach to be a viable candidate and see if you have their support.
  3. You can build strong relationships with your colleagues. Soft skills are as critical as technical skills for rising through the ranks. You can be great at what you do, but you’ll unlikely be promoted if you’re prickly or challenging to get along with.
  4. You can take the initiative on additional responsibilities. One way to stand out is to be proactive. Look for opportunities to take on new projects or find ways to improve existing processes to make them more efficient.
  5. Develop new skills and stay up-to-date in your field. New technology is being developed every day that can radically change an industry. Stay on top of these advancements by attending conferences, taking online courses, and reading industry publications to keep your skills sharp.

Should I quit if I passed for a promotion?

There are better reasons to leave an otherwise decent job than getting passed over for a promotion. If you can make improvements, you can try for the promotion again next time. However, there are some situations in which you might consider quitting. For example, office politics could be at play if you’re doing all you can but are still getting passed over.

Sometimes, a business would prefer to keep a phenomenal employee in their current position rather than promote them, either as a cost-saving measure or because you would need more time to replace them. On the other hand, one of the higher-ups might be blocking your career progression for their reasons. In either case, your circumstances are likely to remain the same.

It’s a good idea to ask a mentor or a business coach for an unbiased opinion of your situation before deciding. Still, if your job is stagnant with no hope of improvement, you might want to start looking for a new one.

Are you tired of getting passed over for a promotion? Growing your skills can help. Sign up here to have my weekly business management and leadership blog articles delivered to your inbox to inspire and educate you.

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
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