I was recently passed over for promotion at work and I'm finding it extremely difficult to get over.

Everyone loses out on a job they really want, occasionally. You pick yourself up, try to learn from the experience and move on. I've certainly done that in the past. But, this really feels different. A lot of people went for the position. But, in the end it really came down to me and my friend. I've been at the company a year longer than him and, indeed, helped to train him. He's interviewed for a couple of different jobs at the company and each time I've really rooted for him - and told him so. But, when I found out I didn't get the job I couldn't believe it. Another member of staff said he was really surprised too.

It's a new role that's just been created and I'd heard rumours that it was coming for a while. For the last year I've pretty much been doing all of the things expected of the senior role. Whenever my manager needed help with a project, training new people or someone to represent my team she has virtually always asked me to do it. I have worked so much unpaid overtime, it's ridiculous. But, I've always done it willingly. When I've noticed inconsistent standards of work on other teams I've (proactively) offered training sessions to their staff. I have consciously built a wide network of staff in different departments, so that I'll be more effective at my job. In addition to my current role I've also taken on extra responsibilities in a completely different department because I wanted a deeper understanding of how different parts of the company operate. It's also allowed me to act as an ambassador for my team and the great (if slightly behind-the-scenes) work that we do.

When I asked for interview feedback, my manager said that she felt that I could do the job and that there was really only a hairs difference between us. But, she felt that my friend gave more examples of improvements he would make once he was in the role. I think I could have come up with some more examples. But, it was still a good interview overall and she has seen the good quality of my work for a long period of time. So, if this really was the reason I didn't get the promotion, I feel awful. I'm usually such a happy, upbeat person. But, I've been feeling increasingly depressed at work and even resentful. My relationship with my friend is not what it was and I just don't recognise the person I'm turning into.

I'm still trying to do my job well and contribute to the team and I really genuinely love the company. But, I have to admit, I have almost completely stopped caring about my particular job. I feel like I've learnt everything I can and the only time I get any enjoyment is when I'm working on the side project I volunteered for in a different department. But, even that will be coming to an end soon. Where before I saw a clear career progression now I just see a black hole and I've no idea what to do about it. 

I'm sorry for sounding so down. But, I'd really appreciate some advice.

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

 Zinzin,  This can indeed be disappointing and a bit of a self- esteem deflator.  Feel free to go cry in your pillow for a day or two.  Then do your best to be who you were before you applied for that.

I'd highly recommend the recent MT , Career Tools PodCast called " I am a former peer"

I've been there and this is good advice. From Mark and Mike.

Good Luck


T. Puccio

ZinZin88's picture

 Thanks, T. Puccio.

I'll have a listen.

Smacquarrie's picture

I have been right where you are.
I have been trying for a promotion for almost 3 years now.
One of the last interviews I went on was to Wichita, KS.
I was told no on this because of:
1. The site leader wants to bring in someone who has many years of supervisory experience (my last supervisor role was almost 12 years ago).
2. He did not feel that he could trust someone who has worked for a company for the past 12 years but has never been a supervisor.

What he failed to see, because I failed to sell it well enough, was that I have been filling supervisor roles within my own work scope as a project manager for my site for the past 2 years. I have no role power but instead need to rely on relationship power to achieve great results.
I failed to sell this correctly so that site in question headed into the new year, and a hiring freeze, in need of a new supervisor.

Of the other items he wanted in a candidate, I have those and sold them very well but he was hung up on the position and title of my current role.

Do not take this as a reflection of you, but look at it as a chance to show that you really are a team player.

You got passed up for promotion but you still have a job to do.
Be proud of the fact that someone you trained got the promotion. You will have other opportunities to show your value to the company.

If you let it get inside of your head, you will find yourself in a very tough place.
Never voice your displeasure about this anywhere that someone from the company may see it.

You may need to take some time for yourself and work this out in your own head as it may come out subtly in your work and other conversations. You want/need to avoid the brand of disgruntled.

The point of all this is that if you second guess yourself on this, it can have a very detrimental effect on your performance and happiness with a, previously, great company where you are/were very happy.

Use this as a chance to grow and show that you can handle new issues.
You already have a relationship with your friend so work with him to help him achieve and grow the team.
This will show that you are a team player and help to grow your CMD for your next promotion opportunity.


TNoxtort's picture

 I have been, in fact, I feel there now. I know how you feel. I don't have much advice to give, only that I can totally relate and share those resentment feelings.

GlennR's picture

It's happened to me. Pick yourself up. Maintain your professionalism. Do a hotwash. Control your emotions and move on. Your turn will come, as mine did.

ZinZin88's picture

 Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to respond. I think it really helped being able to just admit to how I was feeling. Had no idea there was a cast on the subject. Definitely tough love from Mike and Mark. But, also some words of caution that I was about ready to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your experience, Mac. Don't think I'm quite ready to feel proud that I've trained my friend into the job I wanted for myself. But, I don't want to feel resentful either. I think I'll settle for being happy for him instead. Or, at least faking my happiness until it comes more naturally. 

It's hard when you try and still come away with nothing. I've realised just how much time and energy I've poured into work and how little time I've left for myself and my life outside work. Perhaps that has added a layer of difficulty. 

Anyway, thanks again everyone. 

naraa's picture
Training Badge

 Hi Zinzin88, I read your post and first thing that came to my mind was a quote from Luis Fernando Verissimo, a Brazilian writer about having playback in soccer to review referee's decisions as is done in other sports: "Soccer is like life, it is not fair, and that is why it is so entertaining."  Accept the feelings that you are having, it's fair to have them and it is the only way you will get over it.  I have a rule that has worked for me: "never feel like I owe something to the company and never feel like they owe something to me."  I make sure if I work overtime is because I want to, and not because of a promotion or recognition I expect to get in the future.  If the company sends me on training I return in results  immediately or it is because of something I have already done, so I don't feel in debt with them!  You are in the right track, just by thinking you don't want to feel resentfull eventually you won't.  Life is teaching you something here which is not work related. It is bigger than that.  You can probably not see it now, but if you can accept it and move on, and that also includes accepting the feeling of frustation, you will look back at it as something good that happened to you as you will grow stronger and a better person out of it.

Good luck and be certain there is light at the end of the tunnel you are crossing.  Perhaps a brighter light than the one you just missed!


ZinZin88's picture

 Well, it's been just over a year since I started this thread. I wanted to let you know how it all turned out.

Remember that side project? That turned into a job offer... which I turned down in the end for a job at another company. I guess promotions are like buses. Nothing for ages and then two turn up at the same time. It has definitely been a good move for me. There are more opportunities to progress. I am in charge of my workload and project direction, in a way that I wasn't before. The social side of work is much more active and varied. I have been accepted on to a mentor scheme which has matched me up with a mentor who is much higher up in the company. It seems to be a really good fit so far. He's very enthusiastic and motivated. The most important change is that I am just a lot happier and I am back to my upbeat self.

For anyone else who is in a similar position, I would say if you reach the point where you have begun to feel depressed and resentful and it has become difficult to face work each morning, then you need to strongly consider looking for a new job at a different company. I really loved my first company and felt a huge amount of loyalty to it - even though my particular job had completely lost its appeal. So, I was very reluctant to start looking externally. But, it has been the best decision I could have made. Life really is too short to feel so miserable over a job.








lightafterthetunnel's picture

It's been a few years since this post.  I'm curious to know about your current job situation.  


Thank you,