What to Do When You Didn’t Get a Promotion

business professionals meeting

A new job opens up at your company, and you know you’d be perfect for it. In fact, the job is the promotion you’ve been waiting for. Eagerly, you apply. You feel like you ace the interview, and you sit back and wait for the job offer to roll in. But then, a few weeks later, you find out the job has gone to someone else.

There are few things more deflating than losing out on a promotion. Not only have you missed out on all the benefits that go along with it like a loftier title and more money, but it can be a blow to your confidence. You may start to ask questions about why you didn’t get the job. Are you unqualified for the position? Are you missing key skills? You may even start to wonder if you should stay at your company.

Assess the Situation

Don’t beat yourself up over a lost promotion, but you should spend some time thinking about the situation. This moment is perfect for self-reflection. If you have a personal relationship with the hiring manager who didn’t promote you, he or she might tell you why you didn’t get the job. If not, it’s up to you to figure out what happened. Take a look at the person who did get the job and assess how you stack up. This assessment might highlight some deficiencies on your resume. Use this moment as a catalyst to make some positive changes that will make you a more attractive job candidate.

Back to School

Education can be a big differentiator for job candidates. It’s becoming more and more common for a bachelor’s degree to be listed as a minimum requirement for management positions. In fact, many management jobs are now listing a master’s degree as a preferred qualification – and sometimes it is listed as a requirement.

Even if you have a degree, you might find that you have the “wrong” degree for the job you want. A career path is rarely a straight line, and many professionals end up in jobs that are pretty far removed from the degree they originally earned. Maybe you’ve met a graphic designer who majored in sociology or a history major who’s now working in sales. But if you see that everyone who’s getting promoted in your field possesses a more relevant degree, take note.

The good news is that you have many options to fill this education gap. Schools like Ashford University offer career-relevant degrees in a convenient online format that fits into the busy lives of working adults. Your employer might even offer tuition assistance benefits to help you pay for a degree.

Expand Your Skill Set

You may not need a new degree, but you could probably benefit from some new skills. It’s always a good idea to pick up new skills throughout your career to stay on top of innovations in your industry. Furthermore, an employee who develops new skills demonstrates a willingness to take initiative and a devotion to improvement, characteristics that can be attractive to hiring managers.

Which skills should you develop? That depends entirely on where you want to guide your career. Examine the job description for the promotion you missed out on and see if you’re lacking any of the required skills. You can also use a career website like LinkedIn to survey several other similar job descriptions. LinkedIn is especially useful if you’re looking to move into a whole new field. You can quickly get a feel for the skills that are most in-demand for the positions you want.

There are numerous resources to help you hone specific skills. Online options include Lynda.com and Khan Academy. If you’re a bit more old school in your approach to learning, you can likely find a book or instructional guide on almost any job skill at your favorite book retailer.

It never feels good to lose out on a promotion, but you have a chance to turn that negative situation into a positive one. Take the rejection as a wake-up call and commit yourself to improvement. Not only will you gain a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, you’ll become a more attractive job candidate. The next time opportunity knocks, you just might land the promotion you want.


Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.