What to Do When You've Been Passed Over for a Promotion — And Tips for Next Time

woman with her elbows on the table and her head in her hands, looking distraught, in front of a laptop

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 22, 2024 at 2:28AM UTC

Getting passed over for a promotion is disappointing, to say the least. You’ve put your best efforts into your job, and naturally, you want to be recognized. It’s frustrating when this doesn’t happen.

So, what do you do next?

1. Feel your feelings — but be professional.

In the moment, you probably feel a range of emotions: disappointed, frustrated, and envious of the colleague who DID get the promotion. While you may feel compelled to cry or express your anger to your manager, resist the impulse. Do your best to stay calm, and remain professional. It’s reasonable to share your disappointment, but refrain from flying into a rage or using phrases like “I deserve.”

That’s not to say you can’t feel your feelings. This is an important way to process your disappointment. Just do it with the right people, such as supportive friends. If you’re worried that you can’t keep your frustration in check when you hear the news, tell your boss that you need a moment and would prefer to discuss it in more detail later.

2. Support your colleague.

You will demonstrate your professionalism and graciousness by congratulating the colleague who did land the job. Do what you can to support them in their new role. This will show your manager and coworkers that you’re a team player, which will go a long way in solidifying a position reputation at your company. This will prove crucial as you advance in your career later on.

3. Ask for feedback.

Your manager may be willing to explain their decision and discuss what you might do differently to get that promotion the next time around. Give them that space to be completely candid — while their feedback might be difficult to hear, you will have a better understanding of how you can improve. They may be looking for specific skills that you simply don’t have, and now that you know that, you can figure out how to gain them.

4. Evaluate the situation.

What does this mean in terms of the bigger picture? If you’ve been at your company for a while and feel like you keep getting passed over for promotions, then think about whether this is the right company for you. Perhaps it’s time to look to another organization or department within your current organization. Or, maybe you’re generally happy with your employer and want to make it work.

5. Create a plan.

Finally, devise a plan of action. What are your next steps? They might be polishing your resume and beginning your search for a new job. Or, it could mean gaining the skills, certifications or other tools you need to land that promotion the next time the opportunity arises. Whatever it is, be clear on your goals and craft a plan forward. This will be your guide to help you avoid the same disappointment in the future.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for bouncing back after a promotion rejection? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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