I Did Not Get Promoted – Is it Time to Move On?

What should you do if you were passed over for a job promotion?

The experience can be disappointing and even humiliating, raising uncertainty about your professional growth. Undoubtedly, job promotions aren’t simply handed out just because you want them. Rather, there are actions and achievements that could position you to be seriously considered for a promotion.

Ever felt that you were passed over for a promotion in your career? Here are some actionable steps to recognise the warning signs. Citadel Search has also compiled tips to effectively handle the aftermath of being bypassed for a promotion. Furthermore, we’ll flag out the tell-tale signs indicating that it’s time to move on to a new job.

Here is how to turn career setbacks into career stepping stones on your path to success.  Learn how to move on from a job, and onto the next opportunity!

How to Tell When You Get Passed Over for a Promotion

Warning Sign #1 – Lack of Feedback And Recognition

Recognition is a crucial aspect of professional growth and advancement. One of the biggest warning signs is a consistent lack of recognition from your supervisors/managers. If they constantly fail to acknowledge or appreciate your achievements, it suggests your efforts are going unnoticed. You may be lacking support for your career advancement. This can manifest in the form of receiving minimal feedback, masked positive feedback, the absence of  affirmation or rewards for performances, or a general disregard for your efforts. These are indications that it may be the best time to leave your job!

Solution: Seek Feedback And Constructive Criticism

Take the iniative to spark conversations with your supervisor if they have not provided constructive feedback to you. Set aside regular performance discussions. Use these occassions to give updates on your progress. Engage your supervisor by seeking their input on how you have fared. Stay alert to find opportunities to apply their feedback. Every supervisor will be heartened to know you take their feedback seriously. Be earnest in improving your performance on the job.

According to an article by Gallup, employees who feel that their achievements are recognized at work are more engaged and motivated, making them more likely to succeed and be considered for promotions.

Warning Sign #2 – Limited Growth Opportunities

If your organisation does not have an internal mobility strategy, it may signal limited career growth prospects. This can create frustration and a sense of being overlooked, especially for existing employees seeking advancement opportunities internally.

Solution: Invest in Yourself

Identify skills that are valuable for the promotion you desire, and proactively work on acquiring them. This can involve enrolling in relevant training programs, pursuing certifications, or taking on stretch assignments that allow you to develop and showcase your abilities. 

For example, if you are not yet a People Manager, sign up for a Leadership Skills Program available internally. Take this opportunity to speak to your manager about it. This may be a golden opportunity to facilitate the career aspiration conversation. If there is no in-house program available, then invest in yourself. There are many external programs available. Find accredited ones. Your personal investment in your own learning also demonstrates your seriousness in moving toward that people management path. Never solely rely on an organisation to invest in your own personal development!

Internal career mobility is a significant aspect of Amazon’s unique culture. At Amazon, a wide array of opportunities awaits employees of all levels, be it moving vertically to higher positions, or leveraging transferable skills to move horizontally or diagonally

Handling the Emotional Impact of Being Passed Over For A Promotion

Experiencing the disappointment of being passed over for a promotion can elicit a wide range of emotions, including frustration and self-doubt. Do not add to your mental stress.  Effectively managing these emotions is vital to maintain your professionalism and continue excelling in your current role. Consider the following strategies:

Take Time to Reflect

Intentionally set aside time to reflect on your performance, skills, and qualifications objectively. Seek feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors who can provide valuable insights for areas for improvement. Embrace this reflection as a growth opportunity and a chance to reassess your career goals.

Keep in mind that this reflective analysis should not be fuelled by self-criticism or negative self-blaming. Treat yourself the same way you would treat your close friend and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Avoid a Knee-Jerk Reaction

Refrain from making decisions on impulse. It’s a natural response to feel a sense of frustration or anger in such situations. However, it is essential to maintain composure. Resist the temptation to make impulsive decisions that may harm your professional reputation. 

Give yourself the necessary time and space to process your emotions. Talk and seek support from trusted individuals or mentors who can offer guidance and perhaps new perspectives. Engage in your favourite activities that help you relax and maintain a balanced state of mind. You can thus make a rational and neutral decision on how to move forward.

Assess your Long-Term Career Goals

As you navigate the experience of being passed over for a promotion, take some time to think through your lon- term career goals. Gain clarity and guide your future actions. Assess whether your long-term career goals align with the opportunities and growth potential available in your current organisation. Evaluate whether being passed over for a promotion is indicative of a larger issue, or if it is simply a temporary setback. With your objective answer to this question, consider potential adjustments and come up with a new game plan to meet your goals.  

When Do You Know It’s Time to Leave Your Job?

Deciding to leave your job is never an easy decision. It often involves a mix of emotions, practical considerations, and future uncertainties. While every individual’s situation is unique, there are common signs indicating it might be time to move on from a job.

Hence, if anyone asks you including your future employer, “Why did you leave your job?”, use these good responses!

For more insights on reasons for move jobs, read our detailed article Should I Quit my Job – 4 Reasons for Resignation.

In the meantime, here are some summarised signs and guidance to help you make an informed decision:

Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job

  1. You Feel Overqualified: If your skills and experience surpass your role’s requirements, leading to boredom and frustration, it might be time for a change.

  2. Your Job Feels Too Simple: A lack of challenge can stunt your growth and leave you unfulfilled. Seeking new opportunities can help you stay engaged.  You feel you are just repeating your life last year and not learning anything new.

  3. You Feel Exhausted (No Work-Life Balance): Persistent exhaustion and stress from long hours and constant expectation to being available for work,  indicate an unsustainable role.

  4. Long Hours: Consistently sacrificing personal time for work without adequate compensation can also lead to burnout, a sense of injustice and reduced productivity.

  5. You Don’t Fit in the Workplace Culture: Feeling out of place or uncomfortable can create dissatisfaction and isolation. A cultural fit is essential for job satisfaction.

  6. Lack of “Vibes”: A positive work environment is crucial for motivation. If you lack enthusiasm and connection with your team, your job may feel like a chore.

These 6 signs should be a repeated pattern, not just a one-off situation! If these signs manifest in combination with each other, or have persisted for a prolonged period, consider taking steps to chart your next career turn. 

Preparing to Resign

Once you’ve identified that it’s time to leave, it’s crucial to do so professionally. Take these steps to resign with GRACE:

  1. Goal Planning: Take time to reflect. Why do you want to move on from your current job? Does this resignation align with your long-term goals?
  2. Resignation Letter Crafting: Develop a professional and effective letter of resignation. Remain polite and express gratefulness for valuable lessons gained.
  3. Arrange the Conversation: Discuss your resignation with your supervisor. Select a time and place to meet face-to-face, uninterrupted.
  4. Complete the Transition: Make your departure as painless as possible for colleagues. Conclude outstanding tasks and assist others in necessary handovers.
  5. Exit Professionally: Express your thanks to peers and supervisors. Leave a positive impression behind!

For a detailed guide on resigning gracefully, check out our article How to Resign with Grace.

Take Charge in Charting Your Career Path

Being passed over for a job promotion can be a disheartening experience, but let it be an opportunity for growth and reflection. By recognising the warning signs and taking practical steps, you can position yourself for a successful career move.

If you are ready to take charge of your career growth and are seeking new career opportunities, Citadel Search is here to support you. As a trusted executive search firm, we specialise in connecting talented individuals with industry-leading organisations across various industries. Our dedicated team is committed to helping you find your ideal job that aligns with your expertise and professional aspirations. Fret not, even if you have been passed over for a job promotion!

Don’t let a missed promotion hold you back. Contact us today to kickstart your exciting career transition. Take control of your career and embark on an exciting new chapter. Your future success starts now!

Stay tuned for our upcoming article to find out How Long Should You Stay in a Job Without a Promotion!


Lorenz, E. (2022, Sept 13). Is Your Industry Delivering on Employee Recognition? Retrieved from Gallup: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/400907/industry-delivering-employee-recognition.aspx

Amazon Staff. (2022, Oct 31). A new workplace study highlights the importance of Amazon’s programs for career growth and skills development. Retrieved from Amazon: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/workplace/a-new-workplace-study-highlights-the-importance-of-amazons-career-opportunity-and-skills-development-programs

Citadel Search is an executive search firm of choice at the forefront of bridging capabilities to unlock possibilities. In the course of working with many top tier MNCs, we have our ears to the ground on pressing issues, and hence seek to empower our clients to close gaps between their organisation’s talent requirements and what top talents are looking for.

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