Feeling Passed Over for a Promotion? Here's What to Do Before You Quit

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Feeling Passed Over for a Promotion?...
Jul 10, 2023 6 min read

You have been working hard for the past God-knows-how many years. You know the ins and outs of your industry.

And yet, you were passed over for a promotion.

We know your frustration.

Most Enhancv users who have been in your shoes share that the feeling of anger, resentment, and even embarrassment is something that stayed with them for a long time.

And to be fair, in some cases, these feelings could stimulate people to start doing even better at their job.

In other cases, however, being passed over for a promotion could lead to a decrease in motivation and cause severe stress.

That’s why the decision to quit often feels natural. But it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.

In this article, we will help you find out how to:

  • Assess the situation

  • Decide whether it’s worth communicating your concerns

  • Ask for feedback and take it into account

  • Explore new opportunities

  • Make an informed decision

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Assess the situation

The first step to making the right decision would be to assess the situation thoroughly.

Take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the reasons why you think you should have been promoted.

Maybe it’s because of your ability to be a real team player. Or maybe it has more to do with your strong work ethic and the results you have been achieving regularly.

It would all depend on your individual skills and experience within and outside the company.

Once you’re done, write down all the things that might have stopped you from being promoted.

Maybe you have not developed any additional skills lately? Or maybe there are people on your team who are better at presenting themselves as hard-working and competent?

Don’t forget the saying “turn your best employee into a manager if you want to lose a good employee and earn a bad manager”. Is it possible that you have all the right skills to do your job perfectly, but lack some people managing skills and/or experience?

Take as much time as you need for this exercise.

But what to do if, once you’ve reflected on your skills and performance, you have deducted that you shouldn’t have been passed over for a promotion?

The last step here would be to consider if what you’re facing is a problem with the company culture. If it is, then you should really think about whether this culture fits you. And if it doesn’t, then it’s time to communicate your concerns.

Communicate your concerns

Communication is key. That’s why we advise you to share your feelings and concerns and not let them bottle up.

Furthermore, if you’re not sure why you were passed over for the promotion, then it’s always a good idea to ask.

Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss why this happened. During the meeting, try to express your concerns in an honest yet respectful way.

Share your reflections and ask for feedback. Maybe you’re missing something?

Often, it might appear as if you were neglected, but in reality, it might be the case that your manager knows a more suitable internal role will come up soon.

Other times, it might be the case that you’re lacking just one tiny skill that could easily be developed with the right training.

That’s why seeking others’ opinions could prove very beneficial. Not sure how? Let’s see…

Consider seeking feedback

Your manager is the one who’s responsible for giving you in-depth feedback.

However, they’re not the only person who can provide valuable insights on how you could improve and prepare for the next performance review.

Regardless of whether you’re friends with your teammates, asking them how you can improve could help you identify some necessary steps toward a future promotion.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to colleagues about this, then another great option for you would be to talk with your friends and family. Ask them to be objective and help you reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and potential.

After you’ve collected as much feedback as possible, make an ‘improvement matrix’. It’s simple - you just need to list all the areas you would like to improve.

Make a list of potential courses, books, and events that could help you boost your performance in these areas. Spend as much time on research as you need - it will be worth it!

Last but not least, try to incorporate a daily improvement routine in your life. Spend 30 minutes daily, and you will have over 182 hours of upskilling in just a year.

But if you’re sure you don’t need any additional skills and you have been passed over for a promotion just because, then exploring new career opportunities might prove useful.

Explore internal and external opportunities

Sometimes, problems within the smaller team you’re part of could be easily resolved or even nonexistent in other teams.

So if you really like the company you currently work for, then consider checking out whether there are some internal job postings that fit you.

In this way, you would be able to expose yourself to new challenges and growth opportunities while staying in the company.

However, if your recent experience makes you feel too strongly about the company (and by strongly we mean negatively), then it may be time for a change.

Not sure where to start? A career counselor can help you update your resume and prepare for the next interview.

Trust us, going through the process of finding a new job is much easier when you are guided by professionals.

Make a decision

Once you’ve assessed the situation, communicated your concerns, sought feedback from your manager, and explored all internal and external opportunities, it’s time to make a decision.

And although it would be an informed decision (after all this weighing of pros and cons), we know it would hardly be an easy one.

If you’ve decided to stay - make sure to be completely honest with your manager and share your thoughts with them. This could give you some insight into what they’re thinking.

What’s more, it could also help you set realistic goals for your future development.

And if you’ve made the decision to quit - you’re not alone!

In reality, 44% of employees feel the same way as you do and are currently on the lookout for a new job. That’s almost half of all working people!

No matter what you choose, make sure to consider your options carefully in order to minimize the chances of regretting your decision in the future.

Leave or stay? What’s next?

Being passed over for a promotion can stir up feelings of resentment and anger. It can make you feel less motivated to do your job well. And this, in turn, can lower your personal efficiency.

That’s why dealing with it in the best way possible is of huge importance.

Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Assess the situation thoroughly
  • Communicate your concerns respectfully
  • Consider seeking feedback from colleagues and friends
  • Explore new career opportunities
  • Make an informed decision

Regardless of whether you’ve made a decision or are still unsure of what to do, booking a call with our career counselors is always a good idea. This will help you move up the ladder and smash all your career goals!

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He has written more than 500 resume guides and deep-dive articles on how to create your resume and cover letter, that inspire job applicants to make a resume to be proud of. His work has been featured in Forbes, Zendesk, HubSpot, and Business Insider, and cited by top universities and educational institutions, like Thunderbird School of Management, Rochester University, University of Miami, and Udemy. Volen applies his deep knowledge and practical experience to write about career changes, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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