So, you didn’t get the promotion. Don’t worry! Here is what you need to do right now to make it happen


By Jack J. Kelly

Now that we are in April, you may have received a promotion based upon your stellar work performance in 2017, or if not, you could be updating your resume.

Before you start sending out your resume in haste (which sounds like heresy coming from a recruiter), take a deep breath and consider why you were not offered the coveted promotion, completely passed over, and ignored.  Also, this is a good time to start laying down the groundwork to earn a promotion this year.

Here is a quick checklist of what you need to do to turn things around for you at work:


  1. Politely request a meeting with your boss. Don’t use this time to vent, bitch, or complain – even if it is warranted. The whining will sound like sour grapes and make your manager feel like she made the right decision, especially if you lose self-control and come across as a bratty kid who didn’t get ice cream before dinner. Instead, use this time judiciously to ascertain what expectations and goals your supervisor has for you. Determine what she views as important and mission critical to her and your success. Discuss how you could immediately embark upon achieving these goals. Agree upon certain benchmarks that you need to hit. Ensure that there will be an open dialogue so that you don’t have to wait another year just to find out that you still didn’t do what you were supposed to do. Before you leave the office, reiterate her goals and expectations of you, so that there is no misunderstanding. Confidently tell her that you will diligently achieve these objectives, as you want to receive a promotion and/or raise in the near future. When you return to your office space, write down everything so you won’t forget what you are supposed to do.
  2. Why were you overlooked?  This may be hard to do, but ask your manager for constructive criticism and useful, actionable feedback. Directly pose the question, “Why was I not considered for a promotion or raise?”  I know, I know, it is not that easy. It may be awkward and uncomfortable, but you must ask. If you don’t at least inquire, you will never know or understand your supervisor’s thought process, reasoning, and opinion on your performance. Once she shares her thoughts, it could be an eye-opening experience. She may view you in a completely different light than you view yourself.  While you thought you were an all-star, your manager may explain why you were lacking or fell short. If you disagree with her assessment, don’t go crazy and start an argument. Politely share with her your rationale as to why you believe that your performance was superior to her appraisal. Try to keep it even-tempered, as the goal is not to win a fight, but to learn and improve so you could advance in the future.
  3. Share your thoughts of where you see your career going.  In addition to inquiring about your manager’s expectations, let him know about your own personal aspirations.  If you are not on the same wavelength and your career trajectory is not in line with what your manager wants or the company offers, you may have to consider an alternative game plan. This part of the conversation is tricky, as you may find out that there may not be a viable future with the organization. Even if this happens, you are much better off knowing now rather than spending years spinning your wheels and never gaining any traction or growth.
  4. Although it is natural to be pissed off that some other knucklehead got your promotion, remain positive. Don’t let anyone notice your inner rage and desire to throttle your good-for-nothing colleague who got the promotion instead of you just because his sister is best friends with the boss’ wife.  Be a team player.  Let it all roll off your back. Act as if everything is awesome, while you are plotting your rise to power.
  5. Become so good at your job that people have no choice but to notice you.  Put all of your energy into your work. Arrive to the office every day with passion, determination, motivation, enthusiasm, and drive. Word will get back to your boss and his bosses that you are a rising star. They will look at your boss as a dope who didn’t recognize your amazing brilliance and they are still aggravated over the goofball who was promoted. They wonder how both of them got their jobs.
  6. Raise your hand to accept any projects or assignments no matter how distasteful. Sign-up for conferences and networking events to keep current with new trends and to meet people in your field. Pick their brains and share the new insights with your group and manager. Internally, volunteer for everything. Use these assignments as a chance to learn, grow, forge new connections, and leave a lasting positive impression on people that will help you down the road. Everything you learn in these projects will be added to your toolkit, which will help you with your current job and could be transported to a new company if ever you decide to leave for a new opportunity.
  7. Keep meticulous track of your accomplishments. It is too easy for everyone to forget all the great things you did as time goes by. Of course, they will always remember the time you couldn’t stop coughing in the meeting, spilt coffee on the Managing Director’s new expensive suit, and when you got hopelessly lost going to a client’s office.
  8. Make sure that your boss is aware of your work. Be subtle, but keep bragging. Not too much that it looks really obvious. You need to ensure that your boss is cognizant of the great job that you are doing. Keep him posted with your progress. Let him know when you achieved the benchmarks you discussed.  Ask for help or guidance if you need it. Inquire if there is anything else you should focus or work on. It may be time to check in to see if he feels you are on the right track, and if not, how you can correct yourself to move forward.
  9. Stay far away from anyone in your group that is involved with drama, gossiping, or negativity.  Avoid anyone that will drag you down. Miserable people love to ensnare others into their web of anger, bitterness, unhappiness, and despair. Since you are remaining positive and motivated, seek out like-minded, motivated employees.
  10. Don’t complain, bitch, or moan. Smile and show everyone that you are enjoying yourself and happy to be at work.
  11. Seek out mentors that could teach you inside tricks to get ahead.  If you look hard enough, you could find nice people who are happy to impart their wisdom and experience on you. These people, if you are fortunate enough to find them, take pleasure and joy in teaching and helping others succeed. Also, hopefully, they are in with management and could put in a good word with your boss – or his boss- to help you get a promotion and raise.
  12. Try to be the first one in the door in the morning and the last to leave. Instead of an hour lunch break, eat at your desk. Make sure that people notice this, otherwise, you wasted a lot of precious sleeping time.
  13. Update your wardrobe to dress as if you are at a more senior level than you are now. Don’t overdo it, so it won’t look too forced. Dress-up enough so that other employees take notice. They will assume you received a promotion or given some high-level assignments. You will also be viewed in a different light as you look more mature, sophisticated, and polished. While you are at it, you might as well hit the gym to get into better shape, get a good haircut, and improve your diction. Once you are on this self-improvement kick, you might as well go all-in.
  14. Find out ways to help you boss look good to her bosses.  One of the best ways to gain your manager’s affection and gratitude is to help her shine in front of her bosses. Just like you, your manager desires to advance in her career. If you could help her with this endeavor, she should be very grateful.
  15. You need to ask for the promotion directly. Nicely, politely but firmly ask for the promotion and raise. Since you have been actively working toward this goal, you should be prepared with examples of all the projects, assignments, and tasks that you have successfully accomplished. You could reference the goals and objectives set out for you in the initial conversation and show how you greatly exceeded them.

Good luck!


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