Practical Steps to Take if Your Colleague Got Promoted Instead of You

What should you do if you are being 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. 

If you ever felt that you were passed over for a promotion in your career, here is some actionable advice and guidance to recognise the warning signs, as well as tips to effectively handle the aftermath of being bypassed. 

Leverage every opportunity to transform setbacks into stepping stones on your path to success.  

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 most prominent warning signs is a consistent lack of recognition from your supervisors. If they constantly fail to acknowledge or appreciate your achievements it suggests that your efforts are going unnoticed, implying the lack of support for your career advancement. This can manifest in the form of receiving minimal feedback, absence of  affirmation or rewards for performances, or a general disregard for your efforts. 

Solution: Seek Feedback And Constructive Criticism

You should initiate conversations and set aside regular performance discussion with your supervisor if he/she has not instituted that process with you. Take these occasions to provide updates on your progress and engage your supervisor by seeking his/her feedback on how you fared. Stay alert and find your next opportunity to apply his/her feedback. Every manager/supervisor is always heartened to know that you take his/her feedback seriously and you have been 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 tons of programs available. Find the accredited ones. Your personal investment and your own learning also demonstrates your seriousness and yourself 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. 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 fueled 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 and 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. You can also engage in your favourite activities that will help you relax and maintain a balanced state of mind, enabling you to make a rational and neutral decision based going 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 long term career goals to 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 it is simply a temporary setback. With your answer to this question, consider potential adjustments and come up with a new game plan to meet your goals.  

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 progression. 

If you are ready to take charge of your career growth and is 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, so 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:

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:

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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