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How to Deal with Not Receiving a Promotion

Being passed over for a promotion can be a staggering and disheartening experience. And while it may be cliché to look for the silver lining, if you ask others who have also been in the same position, they might say that these were some of the most important moments of their careers. Your actions immediately following such disappointment can show a lot about your professional character and set you up for other movement in your career. Instead of letting the disappointment deter you from a productive day or your present career path, search for ways to turn your disappointment into progress by improving on your work performance.

As this article from the Harvard Business Review explains through the words of Ben Datner, author of The Blame Game, a situation such as missing out on a promotion can easily be framed as an experience from which to learn and grow.

At the point of being passed over for a promotion, it’s important to maintain a normal level of professionalism. It’s easy to be bitter towards the individual or colleague who received the promotion instead, but you must manage your emotions. Maintain a professional atmosphere by congratulating the individual recently promoted, and continue to treat them as you would other colleagues. This displays to those watching, such as your boss or the person with promoting power, that you know how to compose yourself amid disappointment and it will help to keep your professional reputation intact.

It is also important to continue to move forward. Instead of reflecting on the missed opportunity, seek clarification and perspective on the decision. If possible, speak with the person who made the decision and inquire about why you didn’t receive the promotion. It is alright to express your disappointment, but let them know that you are seeking their professional feedback in order to perform better in the future. Depending on their feedback, you may be able to glean some valuable insight into your job performance, habits or skills that can help you move forward and help you conduct your job more effectively in the future. In this case, not receiving the promotion can actually act as motivation to work even harder.

After receiving feedback, take time to reassess your work situation including your work habits, the level of skill you’re showing in your position, and what you need to do to master the job you’re in. Where can you improve? How can you incorporate the feedback you’ve just received? If the feedback was vague or the decision maker was unable to give any, you can easily evaluate this for yourself, or look to a trusted mentor or friend for other feedback.

Finally, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your current position and the reasons you wanted the promotion so badly. Is it possible that you have outgrown this position? Perhaps you were hoping to gain something with this promotion that you can also find somewhere else in a different job?

An initial setback such as missing out on a promotion can be an excellent time to seek valuable feedback and to reassess your work performance. Don’t let the disappointment drive poor decisions that may only set you back further in your job. Though it’s more difficult to pick up your chin and move on, this professional reaction may be the motivation you need for greater success in the future of your career.

Have you ever been passed up for a promotion? What did you do after? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by ajari

Written by

Kailyn is a recent college graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. She is currently working in the publishing industry, where she loves the fact that she is paid to immerse herself in talking and thinking about books all day long. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking, line-dancing, and writing short stories and poetry. Her sincerest hope for contributing to Spark Hire’s job seeker blog is to provide job seekers of all ages with the tools and sense of humor necessary to stay calm and carry on.

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