How to handle being passed over for a promotion

“Disappointed” doesn’t cut it – but you can’t wallow for too long. Here’s how to handle the let-down constructively

How to handle being passed over for a promotion
There’s nothing quite like the crushing disappointment of being passed over for a promotion that you were convinced was yours – but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost opportunity. Career strategist Linsday Broder has some advice for anyone keen to get over the set-back.

Host yourself a pity party   

It might sound sarcastic but Broder insists everyone who gets passed over should let themselves feel however they like – at least for a little while.

“Let yourself be angry. Cry a little. Feel despair for a bit. Let yourself complain, whine or whatever feels right to you,” she says. “Giving yourself time and validating how you feel is a necessary step in the healing process.”

Accept the situation

Spend some time wallowing but don’t dwell on it forever.

“It's time to accept what has happened. You can't undo it,” says Broder. You can't change what is, but you can control your responses to the situation. Knowing this will give you the power to make new choices and decisions that will lead you to the next part of your professional journey.”


It’s essential that you do this both internally and externally.

Ask yourself – were you really that much of a shoe-in or did you read the situation wrong?

“Pretending you've done nothing to bring on this situation is only going to prevent you from future success,” says Broder. “Be honest. It's very important to look in the mirror and face reality so you can learn from any mistakes you have made.”
Hopefully, by looking inward, you’ll be able to find some of the answers – but Broder says you should still solicit feedback from your bosses, mentors, colleagues and employees.

“How you get feedback is completely up to you and might be different when talking with a colleague or mentor versus with an employee,” says Broder. “But getting a temperature read on how others perceive you professionally can give you some valuable information that will allow you to make some necessary changes before embarking on the next part of your professional journey.”

Plan ahead

It’s important to let go of any disappointment you might still be harbouring before you make serious plans. Deciding to look elsewhere will likely seem very tempting while you still feel thwarted but a few months down the line you could come to rue your hasty decision. 

Whatever you choose, make sure your career isn’t about to become stagnated.

“Considering a strategy for moving forward is the most important thing to do now,” says Broder. “If you feel that there is still more work to do at your current organisation that may lead you to better opportunities, then by all means stay. But if you believe this is the end of the line for your career with this company, then start getting out there, network and find yourself a new venture.”

Have you been skipped over for a promotion in the past? What did you do? Share your story below.
Related stories:
This one quality will help you get promoted
Can women attain top jobs and retain feminine qualities?
Most common route to CHRO revealed

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Asia.

Recent articles & video

Creating conditions in which organisational development thrives

Jack Ma on '996' overtime culture

How to offer a stellar employee recognition program

Hong Kong Airlines faces mass employee exodus

Most Read Articles

Google's chief diversity officer quits

How to handle a toxic boss

Jet Airways pilots grounded due to unpaid salaries