3 Reasons You're Not Getting Promoted

You know you have what it takes to do the next job up the chain, but despite your best efforts, you're still not getting promoted. Worse, maybe other, less worthy co-workers are getting ahead before you are. You talk to your manager and gracefully make your case, but all you're getting is hemming and hawing. What's really going on here?


(Photo Credit: pfarrell95/Flickr)

If you're not getting promoted, there are a few possibilities:

1. You're comparing apples and oranges.

If your co-workers are getting promoted and you're not, it might be tempting to look at what you have in common -- e.g. tenure at the company, previous job titles, etc. -- instead of what you don't. Ask yourself if there's a skill they possess that you could learn, such as a programming language or the ability to give a presentation in front of a large group of people and seem at ease.

2. You're not actually making your case all that gracefully.

Stick to facts when you talk to your manager about the possibility of promotion. Data is more persuasive than emotionally charged language, especially if that data comes with a dollar sign attached. If you can enthusiastically express your interest in building your career at the company, without seeming like you're comparing your career track to someone else's, you'll seem like an ambitious, energetic professional, and not a whiner.

3. You're angling for a promotion that doesn't exist.

"There needs to be a position open, or the need for a position to be opened, that you would be the best person to fill," writes Lindsay Kolowich at Inbound Marketing. "Maybe a position opened up because someone left, or perhaps your organization is growing and a new position was created or could be created -- if you could fill that role, you might be up for promotion."

In the meantime, try to concentrate on building your case and doing your job well, not watching other people's careers. (Even if -- perhaps especially if -- they really are getting promotions they don't deserve.) If time goes by and nothing opens up, it might be time take your new skills to another company.

Tell Us What You Think

What's standing in the way of your next promotion? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 2 Lou 26 Jun
    You are absolutely right, Shane. About half the people I've seen promoted are not the best and it is hard to see what management see in them. Most people that I have seen get a much deserved promotion have had to do it by applying elsewhere. 

  2. 1 Shane 20 Jun

    1.  Your management doesn't like your face or your personality.

    2.  Your management wants you to continue taking on the majority of company work because it is harder to hire for your position than an easier managerial position.

    3.  You stay instead of leaving (this never gets you anywhere)


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