Here’s Why You’re Not Getting That Promotion (and How to Fix It)

Here’s Why You’re Not Getting That Promotion (and How to Fix It)

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Let’s say you’ve been in your current role at your company for three years. You feel that you’re doing everything that your job description entails and more, and yet, you’ve been overlooked for two promotions you think would have suited you well. You say to yourself, “why is everyone getting promoted but me?” 

You don’t know why you haven’t advanced, despite your best efforts. You say “yes” to every opportunity and aim to take on every special project up for grabs. 

Counterintuitively, this willingness to accept each and every responsibility might be the problem. Your enthusiasm could be holding you back. 

According to career coach Julie Davies, overcommitting is actually detrimental to both your reputation and your performance. 

“[Your road to a promotion] is not simply taking on’’anything and everything’ in a bid to be ‘helpful’ or to get noticed. That is a certain route to disaster as you will inevitably be spreading yourself too thin and never quite delivering the quality you are capable of,” she writes. 

How to Get Promoted When You’re Stuck

The question, then, is how can you identify your expertise and take on projects that let you use those strengths? How can you convey everything you’ve done in a bid for a promotion? Here are a few methods to keep in mind.

Only choose opportunities tailored to your strengths.

Before you accept a new project or volunteer for a new opportunity, think about your most important strengths and abilities. What opportunities energize you? At which types of projects do you excel? How can you best serve your team? 

Additionally, consider creating a “persona” for yourself under which all of your responsibilities lie. For instance, you could decide you want to be the person in the office who streamlines processes or creates professional development opportunities. 

Then, if a project arises that doesn’t fit either your strengths or your persona, you should turn it down.

Remember, if you become overextended, you won’t be able to do either your core responsibilities or your extra work properly. 

Avoid taking on a project simply because your boss asks for help.

If you jump at the chance to take on any and every project, then you might think that your boss views you as an admirable go-getter. Unfortunately, however, you may instead be perceived as less favorably.

“If you’re an office ‘brown noser’ whose sole purpose appears to be sucking up to the boss—know that most managers don’t like this behavior and it can have a negative effect on upward mobility,” Talent Zoo president Amy Hoover notes. 

What should you do instead? Focus on your alignment with the office culture. 

Pitch ideas for new projects or responsibilities.

Be sure that you’re staying on top of the trends in your industry. Are teams in other states taking on exciting projects you think would work well at your company? If you’re familiar with these innovations, then you can pitch them to your boss if you’re excited to direct an initiative. Make sure whatever you’re suggesting fits with your strengths, too. 

Build your leadership skills.

Key here is taking advantage of opportunities without burning yourself out. One of the factors that often makes a candidate most compelling for promotion are leadership skills. So, if you have to choose, prioritize leadership-building professional development

This is particularly necessary if the type of extra work you usually take on doesn’t demonstrate your managerial promise.  

Keep track of everything you’ve done.

Once you have identified your particular niche in the office, the next step is making sure your boss knows everything you’ve done. You may think your boss will remember your work when it comes time to internally promote, but this is rarely the case. You’ll inevitably have to make a case for yourself when you’re up for a promotion, so you want to remember what you’ve done as specifically as possible

Ruchi Sinha in Harvard Business Review suggests keeping a “brag” folder on your computer where you can write down everything you’ve done. This includes keeping track of your accomplishments as quantitatively accurately as possible. 

“Make a note every time you accomplish something, and add it to your brag folder. This includes every time you receive a shoutout or thank you from a colleague or client,” she suggests. 

The Answer to Why Everyone Is Getting Promoted But Me

Others may have been promoted over you because your extra work has been too scattered, or you aren’t keeping track of your accomplishments. The key to landing a promotion without overworking yourself is finding your niche and pursuing only relevant opportunities.

If you want to learn more strategies for getting promoted without working harder, listen to our webinar “How to Get Promoted Faster and Paid More.” 

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