So you didn’t get that promotion

by Craig Maltby for Club LT

I remember my first corporate job. I was a greenhorn at a large company, hungry, motivated, energized, hard-working, ready to move up the ladder at the right time.

A new position was created that I knew was my sweet spot. Bigger job. Bigger pay. Management duties. The whole enchilada.

I prepped. I interviewed. I didn’t get the job. A colleague of mine got it, someone against whom I thought I was more qualified (of course!). I was crushed. That crushed feeling lasted for weeks. Little did I realize at the time, that would be the first of several times I interviewed for positions throughout my career that I did not get. Up to that point, I had pretty much nailed every job I applied for. But I was young, cocky and stupid and didn’t realize the power of statistics. Mainly that the older you get, the bigger the jobs, the more quality candidates there are for those jobs, and the statistical likelihood you won’t get many if not most of those jobs.

Still, after that episode—notice I did not say “rejection”; more on that later—I had many good years at that company and eventually did get a promotion a few years later.


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Knowing everyone’s situation is unique, here are some thought points on approaching your current job and shaping your mind set after not getting the promotion:

•  Take inventory of the things in your current job that you continue to appreciate. That can help you avoid bitterness and a bad attitude that could hamper your performance and your profile in the organization. If you need to vent, find a friend or peer outside of work who you trust that you can vent to.

•  Keep in mind the people who reviewed your application and interviewed you are probably respecting you for going for the job. Even more so if you accept the results gracefully. The company or department management can see you have some motivation, a healthy attitude and want to play a bigger role. That can only benefit you. And, if it was truly neck and neck between you and the chosen candidate, you may be in even better shape for the next opportunity. And you never know. The chosen candidate for the new position may not stay in it long, for a variety of reasons. Then, it’s “batter up” again.

•  If you can do so diplomatically, you might ask someone, either in HR or even the hiring manager, what skills and experience you need to attain to strengthen your credentials for a future job. Do this with an air of positivity and constructiveness.

•  Don’t look at the result as a rejection. It was simply a decision among a group of qualified candidates. If you weren’t qualified, you wouldn’t have been in the running to begin with. Besides, such a decision, while painful in the short term, may be a long term blessing. Another opportunity may come along—maybe a better one—that you would not have been in a position to explore if you had gotten the promotion. It’s that silver lining thing.

•  And after thinking these things through, if you are truly dissatisfied or even distressed with the prospect of remaining in your current job, that is a sign you might want to look outside your department or company for a new position. If you’re constantly bored, unchallenged, unmotivated or part of what you strongly feel is a career hampering, low-performing or even unethical team, take a new look at your career path. Career paths today are not narrow ladders going straight up. They are more like Los Angeles freeways, with on-ramps, exits, detours, bridges, potholes and fast lanes.

Good luck with that next opportunity. And may your Tiger luck be strong.

About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo. 

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