Didn't get that promotion in work? Here's how to handle it

Getting passed over for a promotion in work can result in feelings of frustration and rejection. But there is a bright side and you can make the most of it in one key meeting with your manager


The interview went great. Your manager and all of your colleagues love you. You feel like it is a sure thing. You have already told your mammy that it is in the bag. You have arranged celebratory drinks and picked out a new work wardrobe based on your expected new salary.

Then your manager calls you into their office for what should be your moment of glory, and instead, they tell you that you have not been selected for promotion this time.

Incredibly frustrating

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It can be incredibly frustrating when, after months or years of hard work, you find out that you are not getting promoted. It can be hard to see the bright side of it, but there is a bright side, according to Maureen Lynch, a director at recruitment firm Hays Ireland.

"This is an opportunity for an employee to understand exactly where they stand within a company and their 'work-ons' for their next review. Take the bad news in your stride and tee it up as an opportunity to reframe the setback. Set up a meeting with your boss to understand the reasons behind their decision. Don’t fixate on the 'why you didn’ts' but listen to their reasoning with a positive frame of mind," Maureen said.

During this meeting, you should present your points of why you thought you were ready for a promotion. Keep in mind the purpose of the meeting is to convey your interest in the position you were passed over for and understand the steps to take to be considered for such an opportunity again.

Managers might promise you a promotion but then not deliver

"This shows your boss your capability of remaining level headed in the face of disappointment and it also conveys enthusiasm, energy and ambition. Your boss will leave with an impression of a proactive employee who is not afraid of a challenge," Maureen said.

Dealing with disappointment

On occasion, managers might promise you a promotion but then not deliver. This outcome can leave an employee feeling legitimately upset, according to Maureen.

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“Rather than fixating on your resentment, you must strive to understand the reasons behind the decision,” she said. “There may have been a development within the organisation that wasn’t communicated to you and this development may be beyond the control of your line manager.”

If you are told that a promotion is still on the cards, you are well within your rights to ask for it in writing to safeguard against false promises. If your boss is unable to provide an adequate response to support their decision to renege on the promotion, then it might be time for you to evaluate your position in the organisation.


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