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Seven Reasons Why You Didn’t Get That Promotion

Competition in Business

In a professional capacity, there’s very little more disheartening that finding out you’ve been passed over for promotion…again.  Despite being entirely convinced that the position had your name written all over it, it was nevertheless allocated to another.  So once again, it’s a case of having that commiseratory chat with your boss, which most of the time does little more than rub salt in the wound.

It’s difficult not to be demotivated in such instances. But at the same time, it’s of crucial importance to think logically about what went wrong.  After all, there’s a reason you didn’t get the job – meaning there’s also a solution if you determine what the reason is.

So at the risk of delivering a few unfortunate home truths, what follows is a brief outline of seven of the most likely reasons why you once again didn’t get that promotion:

1 – You Lack the Necessary Hard Skills

Just because you are the very definition of flawless in your current role does not automatically make you the ideal candidate for promotion.  You may have an extensive range of highly developed hard skills, but if the position you are looking to take up demands a skill you do not have, you cannot realistically expect to be given the job.  If you are working in a data entry capacity for example, it may be necessary to undergo significant training or further education before stepping into a data analyst role.

In this instance therefore, the key to getting ahead lies in familiarizing yourself with the requirements of your intended post, in order to then pursue the necessary study or training opportunities to ensure you fit the bill.

2 – You Lack the Necessary Soft Skills

One of the biggest problems with soft skills is the way in which they can be much more difficult to gain and develop than hard skills.  Anyone can learn how to work with Excel – teaching someone to be an inspiring leader on the other hand can be much more difficult.  Some of the most important soft skills in business environments include communication, diplomacy, reliability, tenacity and the ability to work as part of a team.  As such, if for example the role you’re targeting demands exceptional teamwork and leadership skills, it is unlikely you will be considered for the position if you lack both.

Identifying the soft skills you lack can help guide you with regard to what it is you need to work on.  There may be traditional training and educational opportunities available, though it may simply be a case of chatting with your superiors to request their guidance and support.

3 – You Don’t Respond Well to Constructive Criticism

It is only by acknowledging our mistakes and shortcomings that we are able to continuously improve and develop.  Cliché it may be, but it also could be truer.  Which is precisely why those who do not respond well to constructive feedback may find it extremely difficult to progress.  Instead of listening to and working with the information they are given, they instead become highly defensive or perhaps even offended at the notion they are anything other than perfect.  When this happens, rather than being motivated to improve, such individuals tend to lose motivation and their promotion prospects suffer as a result.

Not only is it important to accept and work with constructive criticism, but those looking to climb the career ladder should be proactively requesting feedback on a regular basis.

4 - You Lack Professionalism

Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly possible to be absolutely fantastic at your job and yet still be completely unprofessional.  Whether it’s constantly badmouthing the company, talking badly of superiors or colleagues, conducting yourself in an inappropriate manner or in any way contravening ‘house rules’, decision makers are not in the habit of promoting those who lack of professionalism. 

If you genuinely do not realise you are behaving unprofessionally, making the necessary adjustments can be relatively easy.  By contrast, if you know exactly what you are doing and for whatever the reason insist on remaining unprofessional, you are more likely to struggle. Once again, the key lies in requesting and working with the feedback you are given.

5 - You Lack Initiative

It’s one thing to master your primary responsibilities – it’s something else entirely to go above and beyond what’s expected of you.  From optional education and training opportunities to assisting other departments to expanding your company knowledge in order to improve your versatility, there are so many ways of demonstrating true initiative to your employers.  And it’s because of this that those who show a complete lack of initiative are unlikely to stand out as strong candidates for promotion.

It’s simply a case of getting out of the habit of working like a robot (albeit an efficient one) and injecting some real drive, determination and effort into what you do.

6 – You Aren’t Focused On the Business

If you’re the type of person that always shows up at 8:59am and runs out of the door at 5:00pm on the dot, you won’t come across as business-focused.  The same also goes for doing the bare minimum to get by, focusing on nothing but what you get out of your job and establishing your career goals in accordance with remuneration.

In order to stand out as a prospect for promotion, you need to make it clear to your employers that the business is your priority.  After all, the business is their priority – certainly not your personal financial gain.

7 - You Expect It

Last but not least, there’s a big difference between feeling you are ready for promotion and outright expecting it.  It could be that you have worked for the company longer than anyone else, you may have the most impressive educational background or you could just be fantastic at what you do.  The only problem being that even all of these things combined do not necessarily mean you should or will be promoted.

The problem being that the more you begin to expect the promotion, the less effort you are likely to put into securing it.  What’s more, employers tend not to respond kindly to this kind of overconfidence, bred of misguided presumptions.