7 reasons you keep getting passed up for promotions at work


For most people, receiving a promotion is one of the most exciting career milestones. A promotion symbolizes your success in your role and your readiness for added responsibility—and compensation. So, it’s no surprise that one of the most frustrating work experiences is being passed up for a promotion.

If you’ve been waiting for a new title and pay bump and you can’t seem to make it happen, here are seven reasons why you might be missing out on the opportunity.

1) You focus on things you need to start doing, not things you need to stop doing.

You may be doing enough to work towards your goals, but what habits or behaviors are you displaying that might be holding you back? Maybe you always get your work done perfectly, but you’re so tired that you have a short temper on client calls. Or, maybe you’re excelling at your own work, but you’re falling short in supporting other members of your team. Take a step back to look at what you might stop doing to propel you toward your goals.

2) You think your hard work alone will get you promoted.

While hard work is important, the reality is that it’s not always enough to earn a promotion on its own. First, consider whether your higher-ups even know about the hard work in the first place. They may not see all that goes on behind the scenes, so your work may go unnoticed. Second, you may need to start thinking about how to leverage your relationships for the best chance of being promoted. Which brings us to…

3) You’re not investing in your workplace relationships.

Workplace relationships are critical, especially when it comes to earning promotions. Building rapport with your fellow team members means you’ll have more people to advocate for your success when the time comes. Plus, when promotion time comes, many managers will opt for the person they know better because they have more trust in the ability to deliver results. If the decision-maker doesn’t know you and your work, it’s time to change that.

4) You don’t know how to advocate for yourself.

Advocating for yourself and your work is one of the most important moves you can make to aim for promotion. You may think that your efforts and goals are obvious, but in reality, your manager may have no idea you’d like to be promoted at all. Be transparent about your future goals and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

5) You don’t ask questions when things don’t seem right.

As you level up in responsibility at work, asking questions starts to become a bit more challenging. You may think that you’re supposed to have everything figured out by now or that you don’t have the authority to question decisions from other leaders in your company but think again. When you have a question or something isn’t sitting right with you, lean into the discomfort and ask anyway.

6) You’re too humble or shy about your accomplishments.

Your accomplishments play a major role in helping you get promoted at work. But, if you’re too shy or humble about your contributions to the company, you may be giving up your chance. Take credit for the role you actually played in getting things done, and don’t downplay your success to make other people comfortable. Claim your wins!

7) You assume people are thinking about you.

At the end of the day, your team members, managers, and company executives focus on their own tasks and goals. It’s up to you to make sure your name is in the hat when the next promotion comes up—don’t leave it to chance! You might be surprised at how easy it is to be passed over for a promotion simply because no one thought to consider you in the first place.

Next time the opportunity for a promotion arises, review this list to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get noticed, prove your ability, and go after the better role. We’re rooting for you!


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