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Image / Editorial

#IMAGEInspires: So You Didn’t Get The Promotion. Now What?

by Jennifer McShane
17th Nov 2017

Getting passed for promotion can be a devastating thing. Chances are, you’ve spent lots of time gearing up, getting excited about your new role and title and this unexpected setback can be a blow to your self-esteem. It’s made all the harder when you consider that even going for a promotion at all can be difficult and nerve-wracking. You feel overlooked, angry, upset and naturally can begin to question your place within the company. But chances are, you really like your job. You’ve worked hard, steadily climbing the ladder bit by bit to get where you want to be and likely don’t want to throw in the towel when you’re so close to achieving your goals. So, what’s the next step?

We asked some of the nominees in the Professional Managment category in our 2017 Businesswoman of the Year Awards to weigh in with their advice for getting through this work rough patch:     


The most important piece of advice is to firstly recognise that you had the confidence to put yourself forward for the role in the first place and not to lose sight of that. Not every CV that is sent out results in an interview and not every interview will lead to a job offer. It’s what you do next that will differentiate you in the next role you apply for. Reflect on what you might have done or said differently, but don’t dwell on it forever. Always ask for feedback, make sure you ask it in the right way though as people are more likely to spend time in providing feedback if it is for your development rather than ‘why did someone else do better than me’. Now rebuild your confidence, you have taken the feedback on board, worked on the gaps, and then you can always get your CV out there if you feel you’re ready to.

Lorraine Peters, Head of Personal Banking, Permanent TSB

The key is to try and understand the reasoning behind the outcome and to figure out what steps can be taken to ensure a more positive outcome the next time.

Alma O’Brien, Partner/Head of Tax, Finance Partner for 2017, Baker Tilly Hughes Blake


Try and seek feedback during the year as to how management feel you are getting on. Don’t find out just at review time there is an issue, try and address in advance. Be proactive and seek other professional development opportunities you can request in replacement of salary. This may progress your career more on a longer-term basis.Try and stay professional. It’s really hard but seek the feedback -good and bad- as to why the decision was made and then seek the advice of the manager re next steps.  Look outside the organisation for leadership development opportunities to build your leadership skills, so that you broaden your influencing skills. Many voluntary organisations like the GAA or going on the board of a school or charity can provide valuable experience in how to negotiate and grow.

 Rosemary Steen, Executive Director Customer, Regulations & External Affairs, EirGrid Group


It happens, it’s necessary, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect your worth in an organisation. If you get every promotion or pay increase that you seek, chances are that your asks are too modest. If you’re consistently chasing more responsibility and better compensation, occasionally you’re going to hear ‘no’. But if you’re repeatedly hearing ‘no’ while others are progressing, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach. Successful negotiations should never be adversarial and don’t require winners and losers. Whatever the outcome, always ask for feedback and listen objectively to it – but don’t internalise the negative. And never, ever apologise for negotiating hard for fear of being seen as aggressive. Smart employers will know that if you negotiate hard for yourself, you’ll negotiate hard on their behalf once you’re part of their team.

Emma Walls, Commercial & Marketing Director, Glenisk Ltd


Keep your own career plan front and centre while you focus on delivering exceptional results in the role you are in. This is the best way to be rewarded in the short term and secure rewards for the long term. Most organisations have bonus schemes, and this can often be a better way for your value and the impact you have to be recognised. And in the long term, if you continue to deliver exceptional results that positively impact your organisation’s business results, while you are likely to be rewarded through bonus schemes, and through career progression – you could also potentially be rewarded with a Long-Term Incentive scheme which exists in many organisations.

Aedamar Howlett, Marketing Director, the Coca-Cola Company (Britain and Ireland)


The way we see ourselves and how others perceive us can be quite different.  By getting yourself into a curious mindset, you will be able to seek out those who made the decision, gain their valuable insights which will help you understand the rationale for the decision taken.  Don’t give up, acknowledge all you have achieved and make this experience a positive learning experience for you.  I love this quote from Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed”. 

Noelle Burke, Human Resource Director, RSA Insurance Ireland


We all know that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and that can equally be applied to all parts of your life and career whether that is about getting a promotion or increase in salary. Sometimes you may need more experience or time to develop and be very comfortable in your existing role before you move to the next level. So the right answer is actually to get that experience and development. There is nothing worse than being in a role or position where you are not ready – and experience makes you ready. I believe passionately in having an ambitious vision for your career and taking opportunities as they present themselves. Sometimes with the most ambitious of visions, we will face challenges but if you really want to succeed believing in yourself is half the battle.

Dara Deering, Executive Director Retail Banking, KBC Bank Ireland Limited


Try to take a constructive approach. Reflect on the situation. Be careful not to become a victim – don’t listen to that self-doubt, which I know is easier said than done! Look inwards and ask yourself: do you truly deserve this?  Are you really embracing and showcasing your strengths? What can you do to help you develop within your current role that will enable you to take the next step in your career? Sometimes you can just be unlucky. You need to be confident and resilient. Own the outcome for yourself. If you have the capability, then it’s just about when and not if it will happen for you.
AnnMarie Phillips, Director on Trade, Diageo Ireland


Don`t give up and value your worth! Accept the decision graciously and request that the raise/promotion will be re-visited within a reasonable time-frame. Then get the head down and play to your strengths. If you have been in the post three years or more without promotion or at least a raise, perhaps it is time to move on.

Caoimhe Haughey, Principal, CM Haughey Solicitors

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