5 Things Successful People Do When They're Sick Of Being Passed Over For Promotions At Work

If you're being passed over for a promotion unfairly, get yourself back on track.

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You’ve worked hard to get to this point in your career. But what if you’ve been at this point for too long? You might feel stuck because you’re being passed over for a promotion unfairly.

You’re not alone.

According to an online Monster poll in 2017, 61% of workers said they had been overlooked for a promotion at work.

When it seems you missed your opportunity for a promotion, don’t despair.


There is always hope. You just might need to adjust your plan.

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Here are 5 steps to take if you're unfairly being passed over for a promotion at work.

1. Don’t react immediately.

If your first instinct is to fire off a snippy email to your boss, don’t. Pause. Common wisdom would tell you to sleep on it, but according to some research, sleeping on it doesn’t lead to better decisions


While a good night’s sleep offers some distance from the sting of being passed over, direct your energy toward one of the ABCs of emotional intelligence: Analyze Before Concluding

Your strong initial emotions will dissipate as you look at the situation from various perspectives. You’ll first want to remove any doubt whether your employer overlooked you unlawfully.

2. Was it unlawful?

While employers cannot guarantee a promotion at work, they do sometimes willfully discriminate against employees by failing to promote them.

The workplace is the source of more than 75% of human rights claims for discrimination. In 2015, 65% of complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission were employment-related.


Whether it be your age, gender, disability, religion or other factors, if you have an inkling your employer is discriminating against you, consider that potential as part of your analysis.

If you’re able to rule this out, then it’s time to evaluate yourself.

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3. Self-evaluate.

Look at your previous performance review and compare it to your most recent. Can you point to a solid track record of improvement? What accomplishments you can point to?

Can you demonstrate and support with data the ways in which your contributions have made a difference?

Be sure to look on the emotional side as well. Has your attitude changed since the last review? How would you rate your level of engagement at work?


If you’re still at a loss as to why you were overlooked for a promotion, ask others to evaluate you.

4. Get a 360 evaluation.

This doesn’t have to be formal. Start with trusted colleagues who you know will be honest with you. When you’re comfortable, ask your boss to provide input, too.

Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions that apply to your situation. 

"Am I a team player? What are my strengths? What should I start doing? Stop doing? Keep doing? What’s an area I can improve on?"

Be creative and design open-ended questions that will provide insight into your situation. Then, it’s time to look at some of your traits and how your bosses might perceive you


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5. Check your executive presence

Executive presence is a combination of personal traits and outward behaviors that create an image of leadership, competence and trustworthiness to those around you.

Are these the traits you’re demonstrating in the workplace? In any healthy workplace, your boss is your ally. 

A good leader has your best career interests in view. They also have to decide when the time is right to promote you.

Check your behavior, your conversation style, and how you dress to ensure they send a message to your boss that you’re ready for the next role.


Rather than react negatively and potentially cause more damage to your career, look at this as an opportunity to learn. 

Take a deep breath and carefully assess how you've approached your career — and what comes next.

Take the time to do this thoughtful analysis to prepare yourself to meet with your boss to discuss the situation. Ideally, you’ll have a plan to adequately prepare yourself for when the next opportunity arises for a promotion.

Then, you’ll be back on track!

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Brent Roy, PCC, CPLC, a certified executive, career and personal development coach, works with men and women who want to increase their confidence and boost their executive presence to prepare them for promotion or a new career. For more ways he can help, please reach out!