What To Do When Passed Over for a Promotion

attractive man passed over for a promotion
Didn’t get promoted?

Didn’t get the promotion? Here’s how to deal with it.

So, you busted your butt trying to prove to your manager that indeed, you are a valuable employee. You probably were eager to put in your best effort to earn that promotion you badly wanted. Maybe you even worked on weekends to get ahead and gave up personal time, hoping to make a good impression.

However, despite all your hard work, you didn’t get the promotion you thought you deserved. Your boss gave it to someone else whom they deemed a better fit. Now, you are feeling confused and maybe even a little resentful.

Sound familiar? If so, welcome to the club. The realization that you aren’t getting promoted can really suck – bad. In fact, it can cause you to become downright depressed. Some people get so disgusted that they are tempted to quit right on the spot.

Right now, you might be furious at your manager and believe that your company doesn’t appreciate all that you’ve done for them. Here’s the thing – it’s OK to feel pissed off right now. Trying to pretend you aren’t upset only minimizes what happened and glosses over the harsh truth of the moment.

That said, now isn’t the time act unprofessionally. Not only will this backfire, but it can also screw you out of potential new opportunities in the future. That may not be what you want to hear right now but I’m just being real with you.

Related: Best “Why do you want to change jobs” responses in interviews

If possible, get up and take a walk. Breathe deeply and try to focus your attention on this very moment in time. Once you are in a calmer place, read the following tips on what to do when passed up for a promotion:

  • Use your energy productively. You are probably feeling all sorts of things, such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and so on. Don’t just dwell on this negative energy and let it consume you. Use it productively. Work on something you need to improve. Take on new projects. Hit the gym after work. Channel your emotions into something that will ultimately benefit you.
  • Learn from your mistakes.Did you get passed over because of something you can quickly improve? Perhaps you were late to work [too often] or didn’t take the initiative as much as you should have. Whatever the reason may be, use this event as a learning opportunity. Find out the areas that you need to work on and start making changes. Obsessing about the past won’t help you. The only thing you can do it move forward.
  • Get feedback.It’s time to do some research. Ask your manager about their decisions. Was it something you said? Did the other person just perform better than you? Do you need to develop a skill? It certainly helps to have that sense of closure. It’s going to be a difficult discussion, but you must have this conversation if you ever aim to find out why you didn’t get promoted.
  • Don’t be petty.Office politics are always tough. Don’t make things worse by acting petty towards the coworker who got the promotion that you didn’t. You’ll only make yourself look small, and it will backfire on you in the end. Be the bigger person and congratulate your coworker for all their hard work. If you can, try to learn from their actions and find out what made them a star in your manager’s eyes.
  • Realize that there may be other reasons you didn’t get it.It’s easy to beat yourself up over a missed promotion. You might start thinking of all sorts of negative reasons to worry over. Maybe you think that you aren’t talented, hard-working, punctual, or outgoing enough. However, the reasons behind hiring often go much deeper. Some people get hired just because they have a better relationship with their manager or people on their manager’s team. The reasons can sometimes be petty or even ridiculous; it could be something as little as the time you spelled something wrong in an email.  Do you really want to drive yourself nuts trying to figure out the minutia?
  • Decide where to go from here.It’s time to stop worrying about the past and to start looking towards the future. What’s next for you? Will you stick it out and hope that your manager notices your talent? Will you seek to improve your performance? Will you look for another job? Determine which path works best for your career and go with it. Remember that being passed up isn’t the end of the world. In fact, not getting promoted can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

Wrap Up

I recognize some of the suggestions mentioned here may seem simplistic. Can I level with you? They totally are. A lot of what I’ve shared is based on common sense, coupled with experience. The problem is that when we are upset, “common sense” often gets tossed out the window.

More than anything else, think of this as a learning opportunity. Don’t jeopardize your current financial stability or income stream in a moment of anger. Keep it professional and recognize that like everything else in life, this too will pass.

About John D. Moore 328 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Follow him on LinkedIn