How To Handle Being Denied A Promotion After My Boss Screwed Me Over

A lot of us have been finding out who got picked for year end promotions at work and who got shafted. The times when we make the cut, we feel on top of the world! But there inevitably also comes a time, or two or three, when we don’t make it and the disappointment is just plain awful to swallow. The promotion we worked so hard to achieve goes to someone else or is pulled from the budget, and we’re left feeling rejected and taken advantage of. It’s happened to me and it completely sucks. But it really isn’t the end of the world and I want to help you learn how to handle being denied a promotion so you can rise back up and get remotivated.

I’ve helped people cope with rejection at work before, but I have a much clearer perspective now because in this last cycle my boss screwed me over and I was rejected from a promotion I really wanted.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought I had this promotion in the bag, but I was wrong. A decent amount of time has passed since my last promotion, and I’ve been busting my a$$ on several big initiatives this year. My performance reviews have been strong, I’ve been super proactive, and I’ve followed all the key steps on how to ask for a raise and a promotion. And yet my boss had the nerve to promote someone else and screw me over. Lame.

An Emotional Crescendo

I consider myself to be pretty mellow. For those of you who are regular readers, you know that I’m an easy going, friendly, and lighthearted gal. I rarely vent because it takes a lot to get me angry and emotional. But being denied this promotion put me over the edge for several weeks. I waited to publish this post because I needed time to simmer down and didn’t want to write something I’d regret later. I really wasn’t expecting to get passed over, and was totally unprepared for the wave of emotions that hit me.

As a woman myself, I have no problem saying that women tend to be more emotional than men, but I generally have nerves of steel when it comes to work. I’m not the type of person who will start crying uncontrollably if I’m given constructive criticism or a challenge. I actually welcome feedback and find constructive criticism to be really beneficial because there are always things that every one of us can improve upon. And unlike some working women, I’m not timid or afraid to voice my opinion or ask for things I deserve. But being denied this promotion made me a complete emotional wreck and my feeling rose rapidly like an intense crescendo.

Refuse To Accept A One Sentence Answer For Rejection

I hit a breaking point once before in my career when I worked an 18 hour shift one Friday and had to come in the next day to complete a huge project. My brain was total mush, I couldn’t think straight to meet my deadline, and the stress completely got the better of me. Getting passed over on this year’s promotion was my second career breaking point.

When my manager called me into a conference room for my year end meeting, I was expecting good news. But as soon as I walked in the room however, I noticed he seemed really down. After I took a seat, he quickly read me my year end stats, and then went silent waiting for me to say thanks and leave the room. I didn’t move. Wait. Did he forget to congratulate me on my year end promotion, or did I just get stiffed? With a puzzled look on my face I asked him, “Soooo, does this mean I didn’t get promoted?”

He somberly muttered, “No, I’m sorry.” What. Wait a minute. That’s it?! I get strong feedback all year and then I’m just supposed to take “No, I’m sorry” and walk out the room? Hell no. I flat out asked him right then to elaborate further because I was not going to accept a one sentence answer and then get right back to work.

My manager started off dancing around the subject, blaming things like the market conditions and our CEO. Typical. He wasn’t getting into that many specifics, and I actually started to tune him out at this point because the shock really started to set it…I just got completely rejected for a promotion. Wow. A flood of emotions hit me like a giant blast of cold water.

The Pain And Frustration When Someone Else Gets Picked First

What made it worse is that he informed me that one of my colleagues got promoted for the title I was working so hard to get. I was so naive not to prepare for this possibility and to assume both of us would get promoted at the same time. The last thing I wanted to do was to expose how emotional I was in front of him, but it was really tough to keep my composure. The timing was terrible too since I’ve been working a lot of overtime the last several months, and then this was the thanks I got. Really?!

I was beyond frustrated! Anyway, I kept asking him questions until I was able to get some dirt on what was really going on. Even though I’m not happy with his responses, I have a better understanding of why I was denied a promotion and some color on what to expect next year. I can’t go into the specifics because I keep the details of my work private, but I still think my boss screwed me over.

Even though I have been an emotional train wreck, I’m not going to let this experience destroy me. I already let my boss know how disappointed I am, that I believe I should have been selected, and that I’m reconsidering my future at the firm. This was too big of a disappointment for me to just sit back and be quiet about it. Even though I may not actually end up leaving, he needed to know that I’m upset and that he can’t get away with something like this again.

From Sadness Comes Anger And Spite

After recovering from my initial depression, I found my sadness turn into anger and spite. But I didn’t let my frustration lead me to do something foolish. As much as I wanted to shout a bunch of obscenities in front of him, I saved the bad language until after I got home. Anger is a powerful emotion that can really consume your spirit and composure in a bad way if you don’t move past it quickly enough.

So I decided to channel my anger and turn it into fuel and motivation to kick all my opponents’ a$$es. I’m also going to keep on my entrepreneurial untemplate trek, save as much money as I can, and then get the heck out of there! All my feelings of loyalty were blown up in this process and I’m focused on doing what’s best for me now. I’ve flushed the sadness and anger out of my system and I’m now fired up and am back to focusing on the positives and breaking free of my cubicle.

Then Recovery, Planning, And Execution

After the sadness and anger started to leave my system, I changed my focus to my recovery and the next steps I want to take. I already made it clear that I am not happy with the circumstances and if I need to leave in order to get justly rewarded for my efforts, I will. I won’t feel guilty anymore about not staying late and declining projects when I have too much work, I will focus more time and energy on building my side businesses, I’m starting to look for other job opportunities, I will maximize the use of all my benefits, and I will take all of my vacation days and not feel a twinge of guilt about it!

At the end of the day I keep reminding myself too that it could have been much, much worse. I am still fortunate to have a job, I like what I do, my salary isn’t phenomenal but it’s fair, and I still have my health. I’m also not going to let work get me as stressed out anymore because it’s not worth it.

10 Key Tips On How To Handle Being Denied A Promotion

I learned a lot from this rejection and I put together some tips to help you if you’re ever in the same boat as me. We must never surrender!

1. Keep asking questions until you start to get some answers. My manager wanted to get away with giving me a one sentence answer to why I was denied a promotion. Don’t let any manager get away with that! They owe you a real explanation. Be bold and ask them questions straight up. It’s the only way you will get answers.

2. Don’t get emotional in public. When you get caught by surprise with bad news it can be really hard not to get emotional. The last thing I wanted was to show even a single tear in front of my boss, but I was so upset that my body couldn’t help it. I also didn’t want to leave the room until he started giving me some answers. After I finally left, I went and balled my eyes out in the bathroom. It was awful. I know it’s hard, but if at all possible, try to keep your emotions in check if you’re faced with a rejection and don’t make a public scene.

3. Find a private place to cry, slam a door, sob some more, and then yell a ton of obscenities. I took some time to myself after meeting with my boss because I was really upset. The last thing I needed was to be at my desk and have to answer a call from a client when I was shaken up. Get yourself some privacy where you can let out all of your emotions. I’ve probably said more obscenities at home these last few weeks than I have in three years.

4. Talk to a loved one. It helps SO much to talk to someone you’re close to when you go through a rough rejection. Go to your number one supporter and let everything out. Listen to their guidance and let them build your confidence back up. It’s easy to forget the big picture when you’re feeling upset, and your loved ones can help you refocus and channel your emotions into focusing on your next move and something productive.

5. Analyze the last 6-12 months and get the back story. Once your emotions have simmered down, it’s time to analyze all the things that have happened over the last 6-12 months. Read through your reviews again, look at your list of accomplishments and failures, and get the back story of what led senior management to their decision.

6. Strategize your next moves. One positive aspect about rejection is that it can be extremely liberating. You have every right to fight for what you deserve, to start applying to new jobs, and find ways to get what you really want. Just make sure to review my list of important questions to ask before quitting your job. Put together an action plan for your next moves, start diversifying your income streams, and get a plan B and plan C in place.

7. Get things in writing and build documentation. Managers know that documentation is key in any type of promotion, lay off, firing, or significant event. Keep track of all the meetings you’ve had/have with your boss. Log every accomplishment, milestone, and goal, and make sure you also have in writing in your most recent review that you want to get promoted. Don’t be your own worst enemy by not making your boss fully aware that you want to get promoted. And remember, if you are a victim of any type of discrimination, you will need as much documentation as possible.

8. Update your resume and start networking. Get your resume updated asap and start brushing up your interview skills. I have a list of helpful interview tips and common interview questions you need to master, so be sure to check them out. Get back in touch with your classmates, old colleagues, and friends who may be able to help you land a better job.

9. Circle back with your boss. I recommend going back to your boss after you’ve had a chance to vent and cool down in private. Make sure to tell him/her that you’re disappointed and why, ask questions, and find out what you need to do in order to make the next round of promotions. You may not like their feedback, but if you don’t reach out, they can only assume you don’t have any concerns. And you don’t want to risk getting screwed over again.

10. Spit out the bad taste in your mouth and move on. It’s hard for anyone to be rejected, especially when we believe we’re doing everything right. But as we all know, unfortunately life doesn’t always work out the way we want. So it’s up to us to take action, build ways to live an untemplate lifestyle, and find the positives in glum times. Stand up for yourself and get your confidence back. Remember, even the most successful people out there have been rejected and failed many times too. Be sure to start lining up your next moves and move forward. Life goes on!

Update 10/26/2014

It’s been about six months since I wrote this post and my feelings of anger, shock, and disappointment are happily behind me. But I didn’t go down without a fight! I had several circle back meetings with my boss and senior management where I voiced my thoughts and concerns in a composed way after I’d had some time to pull myself together. I felt good getting things off my chest and making them sweat a little.

Fortunately they realized they screwed up and gave me a nice pay raise as an incentive for me to say. Supposedly they are also putting my name forward in the next round of promotions with a good chance of me making it, but I’ve learned to hope for the best and expect nothing. It’s certainly been one heck of a learning experience and hey, hopefully soon I’ll be saying better late than never!

Update 1/5/2015

It’s hard to believe I wrote this post two years ago. Fortunately I came to peace with most of my intense emotions. It took time, a lot of talks inside and outside of work, and healing to calm myself down and recenter. So as it turns out I managed to finally get the promotion I wanted, but I was still disappointed that it took so much pain and difficult conversations to get there. But despite all of that to me it was worth it to get that title because I had a lot of pride, I knew I deserved it, and I wanted to be able to stamp it on my resume.

I was in denial for most of the past two years that there were other things about my job that I should have paid more attention to. I wasn’t totally in love with what I was doing, but I was also lazy and scared to leave a job I had for so long. I didn’t want to admit that I was scared so I kept trying to convince myself that I should stay. After all I loved my direct colleagues. But my workload skyrocketed, my clients became constantly condescending and rude to my staff and I, and finally things got so bad last year that I hit a breaking point. It took me hitting a wall and breaking down in tears to accept that I needed to commit to finding a new job. It wasn’t just about me getting denied a promotion anymore, it was way more.

It’s been refreshing and a challenge searching for a new job over the last several months. And I must say the job search process has also made me appreciate all the things my job has given me over the years even despite the nightmares and tears. It’s been so long since I’ve had to search for a job that it’s taken some adjusting to the current marketplace. But having hope of fining a better career path is worth it and I’m not going to give up. Neither should you!

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Hi there, I’m Sydney! After ten crazy years, I left a grueling six-figure job in 2015 for a better life. Now I spend my days writing, freelancing in various capacities, and finding new ways to stretch my brain. I’m crazy about photography, traveling the world, and stopping to smell the roses. Untemplater is where I share my insights and adventures with the world. I hope to never stop learning and being able to give back - every day is a gift! My love of helping people improve their lifestyles, careers, wealth and happiness constantly motivate me to write and evolve. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments below!

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  1. TB at BlueCollarWorkman says

    Sucks. Sucks a lot. It’s great your being so level-headed about it. Way back when my boss first told me no for a pay raise, I had to do what you say in #1, which is, don’t leave that office until you’ve asked questions and gotten some good reasons. Eventually my boss gave me good reasons. A week later I went back into his office, with answers to his reasons, and he couldn’t refuse. I got my raise. Not being flying off the handle and just sticking with the facts really helps.

    • says

      Thanks TB. Phew I tell ya it’s taken me some time to get level headed! :) I was a roller coaster of sad, angry, insulted, PO’d, grouchy, etc for many days.

      That is so smart that you were persistent with your boss, followed up, and got your raise. I think that’s fantastic! I love hearing stories like yours when people decide to take action and get results.

  2. says

    I remember two years ago, I scored a HUGE transfer that I had gotten passed over for the year before. We were talking about double the annual salary (to about $20k). I had been working in the new position for 1 week when the owners decided to do away with the position and roll the responsibilities into the HR job. I don’t think I actually managed to get any work done the rest of the day.

    • says

      Oh my gosh, I would have lost it if that happened to me, especially since they pulled a bait and switch within a week of telling you that you got that transfer. What terrible, disorganized, and irresponsible management. I’m so sorry to hear you had to go through that. I don’t think I would have been able to get any work done for at least a week probably two!

  3. says

    Sydney, this may very well be the best post you’ve ever written. I can feel everything you are feeling and I agree with your steps.

    Anybody who works long enough WILL be disappointed at some point in their careers. I’ve had three major disappointments in mine, and I kept on going until I found my salvation online. Because of the downturn, and the fact my industry was declining, I wanted to do something else anyway. The key is to try and keep going.

    These are the circumstances where managers SCREW THEMSELVES OVER b/c they played a game of chicken (underpaid, not promoted) and lost. Now you’re going to be motivated to find something else to do or not work those ridiculous 18 hour days anymore.

    Everything happens for the better, and I see this event as terrific fire for you to save more, create more, and move one step closer to the Untemplate lifestyle.

    All the best!


    • says

      Wow Sam, thank you! I still have to take long deep breaths when I’m at work so I don’t get irritated thinking about it. But I’m getting better with each day that passes.

      Yeah I am ready to keep going because I want to milk every benefit I have for what it’s worth while I still have them, do the minimum without getting a performance hit on my next review, and maximize more of my time outside the office to work on my other interests and income streams. And I’m trying to focus on my end game and if it takes hopping to one more company before I get there, so be it.

      Failure can be very motivating, especially to push us to try new things and focus on the future.

  4. says

    On the positive side, this disappointment liberates to you no longer put in insanely crazy schedules. Instead of 180 percent, your company and your boss may only get 110 percent (always more than a hundred percent, because that’s what quality professionals do).

    • says

      Yes, I agree. I’m not working weekends or 12-14+ hour shifts after this mess! I feel happy going home now instead of feeling guilty leaving unfinished work at the office.

  5. Jackie says

    Having worked in HR for 10 years, I can say that you’re absolutely right to forget loyalty to a company and put loyalty to your own career first. It made me furious to see undeserving people promoted over others, not to mention the pay disparities… Employees need to actively manage their careers; do good work for your employer, build a stellar reputation, keep your resume updated, and always have your eye on the job market. Even if you’re not ready to move, knowing the availability of jobs and their pay help you decide whether to stay or go when you do get screwed over, and if you forward openings to old colleagues, it really helps strengthen your network.

    Good luck. The first time this happened to me, I spent 2 more years working myself into the ground thinking they would eventually reward me. The second time it happened, I kicked up my job search, wound up with 4 offers and increased my salary by 25%.

    • says

      Thanks for your kind words Jackie. I recently found out about a pay disparity between 2 people with the same amount of work experience, one woman and one man, and it put a rock in my stomach to hear how much less the woman was getting. Fortunately though she finally spoke up about her compensation so she was able to get a raise! It really makes me want to slap the men in management who think it’s okay to pay women less money, and those who say glass ceilings don’t exist. I think things are getting better, but there’s still a long way to go.

      Nice job on increasing your salary by 25%, wow that’s huge! Jumping firms is definitely a great time to negotiate higher pay. I don’t plan to move companies unless I can benefit financially.

      • Jackie says

        Women are also much, much less likely to negotiate their salaries, which has a huge impact over time. Except for the most entry level positions, I always offer less than the max because most people will negotiate (it can really derail a hiring process if you offer the max upfront; people feel cheated/insulted if you refuse to budge). In my experience, almost every man – from junior to experienced – counter offers, but maybe 30% of women do. We need to teach our friends and daughters that it’s standard to negotiate.

        • says

          Yes yes yes! Great perspective Jackie, thanks. Ladies if you’re reading this please know your worth and stand up and ask for it!! You will be glad you did!

    • says

      Thanks for your support Kathleen. It sure has been tough on me! I’m updating my resume and browsing job listings already so we’ll see. Job hunting is quite time consuming, but I owe it to myself to put myself out there and prioritize some time to search at least for a month or two. I’ll definitely keep you posted if I take any big steps!

  6. JayCeezy says

    ***I’m also going to keep on my entrepreneurial untemplate trek, save as much money as I can, and then get the heck out of there! All my feelings of loyalty were blown up in this process and I’m focused on doing what’s best for me now.***

    That is the money quote. Wow. Nice~!

    Labor/compensation is a function of availability (not adding value, longevity, or loyalty). The company has made a decision, and is willing to risk losing you. Really sorry this happened to you, and admire your action plan. I do believe that all business is personal, and you are entitled to feeling as you do, but I wonder if your boss really intended to “screw you over.” That is a pretty personal accusation, and if your boss had another explanation (zero-sum promotions, upcoming reorg, available workload not meshing with a title change, etc.) would your boss agree with your assessment? If so, then you have to leave (if not the firm, then from under his direction). If not, then why not? Something to think about. Keeping good thoughts for you, on your journey this year.

    • says

      Thanks! I find it intriguing what you said about “labor/compensation is a function of availability.” That’s unfortunately quite true. Did my boss intend to make me so mad that I would want to quit on the spot, probably not, but I do think he thought he could get away with not promoting me in this round and that I wouldn’t react the way I did. I’ve talked to a few of my close colleagues and they are shocked at how things turned out too.

      It’s definitely been a big learning experience for me and one that I will never forget. It’s certainly been a reminder that nothing is certain in life and it’s always good to have a plan B and C in the works. Even though this year got off to a rocky start, I’m going to push through and turn things around for the better. I’m really looking forward to taking all of my vacation!

  7. Lance @ Money Life and More says

    That’s horrible. I’m sorry it happened but at least it got you on the path to get what you’re worth whether it be at another firm or you heading out on your own. Good luck and keep us posted.

    • says

      Thanks Lance. Yes, true true. It was a good kick in the pants to get me to re-prioritize and take back more time for myself. I’m already enjoying working fewer hours!

  8. says

    Wow, bummer. I know exactly how you feel. I am in a similar place at work, although it’s not about a promotion rather than general trust issues. I’ve got a boss who constantly praises my work but acts really shady as if there are trust issues between us at times. I feel as though she may have multiple personalities (seriously) and it’s making me really uneasy at that place. I’m sorry to hear that you got denied. Let’s hope something good comes out of it one way or another.

    • says

      That is a bizarre situation you’re in. Document as much as you can and try to catch her on her good days. Sounds like she has control issues too.

      And thanks for your support. I’m hoping for the best and have learned a lot from this experience.

  9. says

    That sucks. It’s clear you are passionate about your work, and have taken this personally. Realistically, since this things affect us as individuals, it is personal – right? Having said that, It seems to me like you have a good handle on this actually, and are poised to leverage this experience into reaching even bigger goals.

    Anyway, I like your tips. A couple that jump out to me are:

    2) Don’t get emotional in public. I agree with this, as composure is important in the workplace when it comes to getting respect. I saw one woman get very emotional about not getting promoted to becoming a senior-level manager, and her boss’s boss didn’t like it one bit from what I heard 2nd hand. Apparently, after seeing her get emotional, he remarked that she wasn’t emotionally ready to be promoted. Period. Soon after, she left the organization. She was nice and VERY smart – and hard working – but that wasn’t enough to overcome the rigid barrier that she helped set for herself. I use this memory as something to learn from vicariously.

    6) Strategize next moves. Absolutely, we need to plan ahead and think things through.

    8) Networking. Yes, that gives us options and more control over our future. We must network, and do so even well before we actually need the network.

    As for me, I’ve been suprised by some things that have happened in the past. One that jumps out is a boss that I absolutely believe with very little doubt talked negatively about me to someone in the company that could have hired me. The job would have been a promotion AND a really great career opportunity in other ways. However, I’m also pretty sure my boss did NOT want to lose me, as she wasn’t happy in the first place that I was interested in pursuing that position. Bottom line is that I think she blocked me from getting serious consideration for that role because of her own selfish reasons.

    Now, this was many years ago, but I still remember how angry I was. But once we let the anger pass, we can look at it rationally and then strategize. Ultimately, I got another position outside of her team and it was a promotion, so it worked out to some degree. Though it took at least 6 months more, if I recall right.

    • says

      Thanks Squirrelers. Yeah I definitely took it personally. Yikes about that woman who got shut down for being too emotional. Makes sense though. The higher up we get the more stable we need to be and able to handle more pressure and things that go wrong.

      Oh man that must have been so tough when your ex-boss said bad things. Totally sounds like she didn’t want to lose you but that’s messed up she did that and very unprofessional. A good manager should always respect their employees best interests. I’m glad you were able to get out and do better things after that!

  10. says

    Sounds dreadful! Well however and waiting and presenting this post professionally! Must by terribly hard. I’ve been rejected for a promotion before, but it wasn’t nearly as soul crushing as this sounded.

    Keep up the hard work, it’ll always win out!

    • says

      Thanks Jamie. I’ve got my eye on the future and won’t let this one failure keep me from breaking free. I think it will actually make it easier for me to make my exit when that time comes!

  11. says

    Quite the post Sydney!
    I’m totally with you, the only loyalty we owe is loyalty to our selves. Corporate loyalty is a bunch of BS! As someone who’s passionate about their work doesn’t get what they deserve is unfortunate – you certainly handled it better than I would. In the end, like you said, “spit out the bad taste in your mouth and move on. “

    • says

      Yeah. I’m glad I don’t plan on doing this for 30 more years! I think time heals all wounds and also makes us smarter to put ourselves first and move on.

  12. says

    I am a former teacher and had this experience of being let go from a school. I went through all of these emotions. The important part is that we keep moving forward. I love your list of steps to handle this and I am sure it will come in handy for me in the future. Best wishes on your future endeavors!

  13. Stephen says


    Thanks for the article. You nailed every emotion, in order, of what I felt and by blind luck, I’ve did most of your suggestions.

    My question is this, how do I address in interviews being an assistant manager for 3 years and a co-worker being promoted to manager of the group? Yes, my boss has told me privately he screwed me and while it was no fault of my own, there was nothing that could be done now and perhaps if I keep working hard one day in the future I’ll get another opportunity.

    • says

      Thanks for reaching out. I wouldn’t bring it up on your own that your coworker was promoted and you weren’t. It’s unlikely your interviewers will know that just based on your resume. If it were to come up in the interview however, definitely keep it positive. If you bash your boss or your coworker in the interview, that only makes yourself look bad. Talk about the skills you’ve been working on and what your ambitions and goals are. Hang in there and don’t give up. There will be other opportunities!

  14. megan says

    Thanks for your post, I too was passed up for an opportunity at work. I worked so amazingly hard, staying over when they needed help, volunteering for weekends when they couldn’t fill gaps in the schedule. As far as my job itself, I was the one with the highest production and had the most seniority. The missed opportunity came as a shock when they hired someone who had been there for 9 months, that never volunteered to stay over, that never showed initiative to work weekends to help out. I was in shock to say the least. My manager tried finding out what was wrong with me and my response was everything was fine. He called me in his office saying my behavior was unacceptable. I suppose it was because I gave him a half ass answer, saying things were fine and assumed my work responsibilities. When I was in his office, I let the water works out saying how hurt I was. I hyperventilate every time I cry, so it was extremely awful, not to mention embarrassing on my part. I managed to calm down and tell him how extremely hurt, and mortified I was. I told him I am a strong worker and my heart and soul goes into everything I do, that it bothered me that they didn’t even look at that. I can tell, by the look in his eyes that he felt horrible about it and next week he is interviewing me for another supervisor role.

    • says

      I feel for you! I know exactly how it feels to break down like that even though that’s the last thing you want to do. Good for you for getting it all out there, and letting your boss know how much it bothered you. Best of luck with landing that supervisor role!

  15. Al P. says

    I am just going trough a very similar situation and it’s being very hard to overcome. I really wanted to get promoted and I thought I was the obvious choice. I am sure my boss screwed me. I was very committed to my job but after this situation I don’t anymore. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • margaret says

      Hello AI P. I feel you totally. See my post below for my experience. It is hard to overcome, but you will. My experience has been tha times like this are like a cross-roads. You have to move forward and out of that spot. Take your time to decide how to move forward, and start to put in action a plan to do that. You may just surprise yourself.

  16. margaret says

    I like this post. Yeah i got screwed too. It hurt like hell, like a painful divorce or a death. I literally had to see a therapist to get back on my feet. Even better help came from talking it through with a trusted family member who, after validating my hurt and the screwed-up, helped me keep my focus on the bigger picture. Very similar to the steps suggested in this post. I had to understand what I wanted from the promotion, and how i could get it without the promotion. I realised i wanted financial independence, so yes the raise. Being a seasoned entrepreneur, he offered to immediately accompany me on the journey towards financial independence throught the entrepreneural route. Still pumped up fromt the screw-up, i raised the requisite finances pretty quickly and my the journey has just began, barely three months from the screw up. i told my therapist i wasnt interested in talking about the screw up anymore, as i was now really focused on something else. Right now I feel liberated and still fired up. I dont give too much of myself to my employer anymore, just the minimum acceptable. And eventhough i still feel upset when i think about the screw up, i also feel the positive vibes about it because it forced me into focusing on gettiing what i really wanted. This is my experience.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experience Margaret. I’m glad you were able to talk to people to get through those awful days. And that’s fabulous news that you’re taking advantage of your situation now and turning things around for yourself. Best of luck with your new journey!

      • margaret says

        Thanks alot Sydney for your encouragement! One thing I forgot to mention and that helped me tremendously was my faith which emphasizes forgiveness and emphathy with others. I confess i still struggle with that one, but just being always conscious of it means less time spent in the ‘negativity’ zone.

  17. Eddie says

    What tips would you have for someone who feels as though their entire career has been a series of screw jobs? I’m constantly getting praise over how smart and knowledgeable I am and how I’m an asset to the team, but not once has that ever translated into an even meager pay raise or promotion. I’ve moved departments but it’s all been lateral moves.

    I can’t seem to find an job outside the company and feel trapped, unappreciated and demoralized. i’ve talked to my bosses about this and nothing’s come of it.

    I can’t help but feel bitter and angry when i see that everyone that got promotions over me had their careers jump-started and are now in great positions, and I’m still in the same place I was 5 years ago. It feels like entire career paths were stolen from me.

    • says

      My advice would be first not to beat yourself up about the past. Careers are a learning process and sometimes we don’t realize until many years into a job that things aren’t going to work out the way we want. Even though many younger people hop companies every 1-3 years, there are those of us who stay for much much longer at one firm. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with staying at a company for longer than that if things are going well or if you can’t risk losing income at the time. When it comes to careers and promotions things typically just don’t move that quickly. 5 years at one place isn’t too long for you though, so don’t lose hope on turning your career around!

      It sounds like either your manager doesn’t have enough pull within the company to give you more pay and a promotion, or perhaps your manager wants to promote you but more senior management doesn’t, or (please don’t take offense) potentially your manager may feel that you’re not as strong as your colleagues but simply doesn’t have the balls to tell you that.

      Since people around you are getting promotions and you’re not, there’s something wrong and it’s not right for your manager not to explain that. Your feelings of being bitter and angry are totally understandable. I know exactly how you feel. And management owes you an explanation. If they are promoting others and not you, but aren’t giving you any reasons why, that’s not right.

      Start looking for a new job if you can. Hiring tends to be good in February and March, so I hope you can find something. Just remember that if you get an interview, avoid bashing your current employer b/c that will scare away the hiring manager. Always aim to keep things positive.

      Even though it may feel like you’re still in the same place, you have come farther than that. Make a list of all the things you’ve learned and completed over those 5 years, and use that as fuel to find a new job.

      Best of luck and never give up!!

  18. mknsdct says

    Sydney, I would love to hear your reply to Eddie’s question posted on September 3rd 2014., I think there is a large population in Eddie’s position. What advise can you share?

  19. Martin says

    Hi Syd,

    Glad to see things finally worked out for you. I am going through the same thing at the moment, except my boss was supposed to leave.. I went for the interview, was shortlisted and it was announced that I would start acting in that position, and on the Monday morning that I was supposed to start acting, I received a call from the big chief saying ‘sorry, …… changed his mind and he is not leaving anymore’. The minute I met up with him and he opened his mouth, it was lies and lies and lies.. and it has never stopped.. Eventually transferred out of the region and went for professional counselling. To no avail. and then recently handed in my resignation. Not that I have another job, but I have options. This came after another regional managers position opened up and all of the sudden they decided not to fill it again as it is more ‘convenient’ to run the province with less regional managers… I say it’s a whole load of BS from people who is in positions that they are supposed to be in…
    I am really happy for you though. I know exactly what you went through.

    Congrats on your promotion and all the best!

    • says

      Thanks Martin! Gosh I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. That is awful they treated you like that. It’s good you got out of that toxic environment. Being treated like that isn’t healthy for anyone. Best of luck with your job search and hope you find a new job with trustworthy and respectful management soon! Hang in there!

  20. Rainae says

    Thank you for the post. I am in same boat. We are a team including 4 men and I am the only women working since 2011. I work for a big bank in corporate office. I am just 1 level below manager position while all my peers are managers. Last year I did get a great feedback and despite of my 1st pregnancy my rating was really good “very strong” (2nd to highest rating “exceptional”) I was expecting a promotion because of all praises and appreciation in management meetings. But my Manager and his Boss moved to different group at a very wrong time. When I spoke about my promotion to New Manager he told me I need to be exception twice (that’s the rating he received to get promotion)…!! This was so disappointing to hear…now I know for sure all folks across company doesn’t have to be exceptional to get promoted. Also you need an opportunity to get that kind of recognition. Its just His way of thinking that person should be promoted when he /she is exceptional when calibrated against peers. That being said, I believe its a calculated decision who gets promotion and ratings are just a paperwork to make that happen. I really felt discriminated, hurt and disappointed. Finally i realized I will leave company after 15 months and by that time I will establish my business and be a owner and will do something of my own!! I have no energy to waste on following-up that hard which will not be worthwhile if thats given to me after so much pain and follow ups. I am not quitting instead want to take higher road! This is mid year review time I am already feeling unappreciated, now good or bad feedbacks from peer doesn’t matter anymore. I just want to do my best sustain the respect I have earned and move on!

    • says

      So sorry to hear about what you went through. Augh I know exactly how frustrated you feel. Sounds like your new boss was making excuses and trying to just make himself look good by keeping budgets low or something like that. Lame!

      Good for you for using the fire in your belly to start preparing an exit and wanting to branch out on your own. If entrepreneurship is one thing – it’s work where more dedication and hustle have a direct correlation to success. Unlike in the mainstream corporate world where a lot of times those who don’t work as hard are rewarded just as equally and there is lots of gender wage gap discrimination and office politics. Best of luck with your plan preparations! You should also consider getting paid to quit your job – I did!

  21. Bub says

    I’m currently in the same boat also. I’ve applied for several promotions within my department that I’ve been in for 6 years (13+ years in organization total). But I’ve been denied every single time. I’ve been working towards get promoted, and they know I want a promotion. They are not guiding me at all, but I’m doing what I can to get promoted even if I’m not doing exactly what they need me to do since like I said – they’re not guiding me at all. I found out that those in the position of where I’d like to be didn’t even have the experience that I do now when they were hired. What the f—in’ hell???? I guess this is my venting thing. Anyways, I’m looking outside of the organization because clearly they are not seeing me in their future. It’s their loss. This type of leadership I feel is like a cancer, and it’s only going to get worse if it’s not taken out.

    • says

      Hi Bub. Augh, so sorry to hear about your situation. It is SO frustrating!! A little venting is healthy – it will motivate you to find a better firm where you admire the leadership and can get the promotion you’re after. Best of luck and don’t give up!

  22. crng says

    Similar happened to me 2 years ago. I had all the good reviews, recommendations, awards, and had been promoted in the past because I was able to achieve results. I was led to believe i was in line for promotion. A new younger director came in and several managers retired. Younger individuals were promoted. My reviews were lowered. I went no where. i had all the same emotions. I hired a job coach and got professional counseling. I realized that it wasn’t all about me. Sure we can all improve but if the bar keeps changing then you are like a hamster on a treadmill. Keep in mind sometimes a new management has a different agenda and you may never reach your goals then. Different generations will have different perspectives. I have channeled my energy to opportunities outside of work and found new strengths and abilities that I previously didn’t think of.

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