3 Things You Should Do If You’ve Been Passed Over for a Promotion

When it happened to me I literally went home, kissed my kids and husband, crawled into bed and slept for 12 hours. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It was definitely low grade depression. I had just found out that the promotion that I was more than qualified for and thought I had earned was not being given to me. While I won’t get into the particulars of the politics that was involved in that decision, bottom line is that I was crushed and I knew that something wasn’t right. I had visualized it, prayed about it, and I knew that it was mine. And yet, someone was telling me “no”.

As a woman of faith, one thing I’ve learned is that when God has something for you, it’s for YOU. You may have found yourself in a similar situation where an opportunity that you were once sure of has unexpectedly slipped from within your grasp. While it’s easy to convince yourself to give up, I’m challenging you to let this be motivation to continue going after what you want. Here I’m laying out three simple actions I took to keep my head back in the game. SPOILER ALERT: I got my promotion! And all I had to do was create a strategy, get feedback, and put myself out there again.

Process the disappointment

And yes, that strategy includes having a good cry if you feel you need it. Don’t believe it? Check out this article in Healthline that lists the benefits of crying and they are plenteous! No good strategy will be executed properly if you’re an emotional wreck. So allow yourself to process the disappointment so that you can move forward from a place of acceptance.

Get feedback.

When you’re hit with a blow like this it’s easy to jump to your own conclusions as to why you didn’t get it.

The manager hates me.

I knew I wasn’t good enough to take on that role.

Sound familiar? Well let’s not focus on feelings. Instead, focus your energy on getting facts. I ended up scheduling a follow up meeting with the manager who denied my promotion and asked for feedback on my performance so that I could get a better idea of where they felt I was lacking. I took notes and reviewed it afterward. This feedback was really helpful and while some of it was really tough to hear, it helped me figure out what my next moves should be. One other thing that that conversation did was give me the platform to correct some inaccuracies on how my work was being discussed as well as highlight strengths and previous experiences that I wasn’t able to in my initial vetting process.

Lastly, taking the initiative to schedule that meeting showed the hiring manager that I valued feedback and was willing to do what it takes to do the job.

Create a strategy.

So as I mentioned, during that meeting, I took notes. Now is the time to figure out next steps. Look through the feedback and focus on what you can actually control. Were there skill gaps highlighted? For example, does the role require that you know how to proficiently use a specific computer program? Ok, no problem. Your next step should be to Google classes that you can take to upgrade your skills.

I know what you’re thinking. Signing up for a class is easy. But what if the feedback was that you don’t have management experience? You can’t just up and start managing someone that isn’t your direct report. Well, here’s where you’ll need to get a little creative. What other opportunities might there be for you to “supervise” other staff or even interns? Maybe you might volunteer to take lead on a project involving multiple team members. While they are not your permanent direct reports, you will at least have people reporting to you in a limited capacity and it’s something that you can put on your resume.

Put yourself out there again.

You should have learned this lesson when you were learning how to ride a bike. Just because you fall off doesn’t mean you stop trying to ride. You dust yourself off and get back on. That same tenacity when you were a kid is what’s needed if you really want to make an impact on your career goals now. So next time a similar role comes up for grabs don’t be afraid to put your hat in the ring, even if it means applying for a role outside of your current organization.

I got my happy ending when I didn’t give up. I advocated for myself and I kept showing up every day and doing the work, despite the blow to my ego. Some months later there were new opportunities opening up at my organization and there was a need to fill a leadership position. And guess whose name was top of mind.

Exactly. And that’s all I’m trying to say.

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