Have you been passed over for promotion by less qualified coworkers or external applicants?
I understand how you feel, it’s happened to me a number of times and never gets any less frustrating.
Disappointment aside, there are reasons why a less qualified person got the nod over you and things you can do to improve your promotion aspirations going forward.
Here are 10 of the most common reasons why people like you get passed over for promotion by less qualified people:
10 Reasons Why You’ve Been Passed Over for Promotion by Less Qualified Candidates
1. They Are Great at Interviewing
No matter how much experience or what qualifications someone has when they walk into an interview, they still need to be able to articulate themselves effectively and impress the interviewer.
The less qualified applicant may have done just that, while you may not have been as successful in selling yourself to the hiring manager.
In fact, some people are naturals when it comes to selling themselves and can talk themselves up without having the qualifications on paper to back it up!
2. You’re Not Good at Interviewing
On the flip side, if you are not good at interviewing and unable to communicate your skills effectively during the interview process, it may be holding you back.
Work on improving your interview skills, practice with a friend or colleague if need be, and be prepared to sell yourself in the future.
Interviewing is a skill and an art, and like anything, it’s something you’ll get better at the more you practice.
3. The Role Didn’t Come Down to Qualifications
The person who gets promoted doesn’t always come down to who is the most qualified or even has the most experience for the role.
There are other factors at play, such as company politics, the long-term goals for the role, the culture in the department, and more.
You may have been more qualified on paper, but the person who got the job may have fit better in those other areas.
4. They Get on Better with The Decision-Makers
It’s unfortunate, but in some companies, the decision-makers may value personal relationships over qualifications.
The less qualified applicant may have a better rapport with the people making the decision, and that can give them an advantage.
If this is how things seem to work within your organization, focus on networking within your company and building relationships to put yourself in a better position.
5. They Had Their Manager Speak up For Them
If they didn’t know the decision-makers firsthand, it’s possible the less qualified person who got the promotion pulled some other strings.
Perhaps they had their manager speak up for them, advocate for their promotion, and use their clout to vouch for the applicant’s abilities.
I’ve known this to happen on more than one occasion myself, and it makes sense if you think about it.
6. Your Boss Sees You as A Threat
This is one of the classic reasons why a boss will pass on someone who is qualified and well-suited to a role.
They may see you as a threat to their own position in the long term if they promote you and give you more responsibilities, especially if you’re starting to overlap with their responsibilities.
In this situation, it’s important to try and have a discussion with your boss and explain that you are not trying to undermine them or their position in any way.
It’s not an easy conversation to have, but you need to bring up the topic if you intend on being promoted while they’re above you.
7. The Decision-Makers Are Incompetent
Unfortunately, sometimes the decision-makers and those responsible for deciding who is promoted just aren’t competent enough to make the best choice for the role.
They may not understand exactly what qualifications and experience are needed, and may make a decision based on other factors instead.
If this is the case, it’s going to be hard to get recognition for your qualifications and hard work while the same people are in this position.
8. You’ve Become Too Important in Your Current Role
This is another reason that’s both a compliment and a curse, but I’ve seen it be the reason someone less qualified gets promoted countless times over the years.
If you’ve become too valuable and important in your current role, it’s very possible that your company doesn’t want to create a bigger problem by promoting you.
If this is the case, this is something you can address by training someone else up or sharing your responsibilities before the next promotion comes up.
9. They’re Seen as A More Reliable Longer-Term Prospect
Qualifications are important when deciding who is best for a role, but in a lot of cases looking at the long-term prospects is even more important.
It’s expensive and time-consuming to hire and train new employees.
If the decision-makers see a less qualified applicant as a more reliable option for staying with the company longer they may go with them.
This is something to consider when talking about where you see yourself in the future and what your long-term career aspirations are.
10. They’ve Been More Proactive About Professional Development Recently
It’s important to constantly work on our own professional development and self-improvement, but it can be easy to fall into a rut where we aren’t actively seeking out new opportunities and experiences.
The less qualified applicant may have been more proactive about their professional development recently.
Things like taking courses or seeking out new experiences might have made them appear to be more motivated and hungry for the role.
If this is the case, use it as motivation to step up your own professional development game and show that you’re ready for the next promotion opportunity.
How Do You Deal with Being Overlooked for A Promotion?
No matter the reason, being passed over for a promotion can be disheartening and frustrating.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t reflect on your worth or value as an employee.
Try to focus on what you can control, like continuing to do great work and actively seeking out opportunities for professional development.
If the reason for being passed over is something like your boss seeing you as a threat or how you came across in your interview, these are areas you can now work on.
At the end of the day, remember that a promotion is not the only measure of success in your career.
Keep working hard and seeking out opportunities, and the right promotion will come eventually.
And if not, there are always other options to consider, like seeking out a new job or even starting your own business.
Don’t let one setback define your career path!
Image credits – depositphotos.com/stock-photo-man-supporting-woman-reading-bad
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.