I know what it feels like to go for promotions, hold my breath over it, only to be told I didn’t get it.
It hurts, I’m not going to lie.
One thing I learned over the years, however, is how to spot the signs that I didn’t get the promotion I wanted, and better prepare myself for the news!
Obviously, I really hope you get the promotion you’ve gone for, I really do!
But while you’re waiting, looking for signs that you didn’t – or did – get it might help put your mind at ease and lower your anxiety.
Here are 10 signs you didn’t get the promotion and what to do about it:
10 Signs You Didn’t Get the Promotion
1. Your Boss Hasn’t Been Making Good Eye Contact
If your boss is instrumental in the decision of whether or not you get promoted and they’ve been struggling to make eye contact since the interview, it’s not a good sign.
You could look for other cues and how they’re acting around you and others, too, our body language often gives away what we’re really thinking and feeling.
If they’re acting differently towards you, you’ll know it.
2. You’re Feeling Left out Of Communications
If the wheels have started turning in preparation for the promotion there will likely be some important internal communications happening.
If you feel – or know – that you’re being left out of these and can see other coworkers are involved, it’s not a good sign.
You can try to bring it up with your boss to satisfy your curiosity, but there isn’t a lot you can do about it at this point.
3. You Can See Your Manager Giving Time to Another Candidate
If you notice your manager giving extra time and attention to another candidate since the interview, it’s definitely a red flag.
People’s actions often speak louder than words, and it’s clear where their focus is.
It might be hard to see, but try not to take it personally – there are always other opportunities out there.
4. Your Main Focus Has Always Been Money
This is always a tough one as we all (most of us) want more money and the pay rise is one of the main motivators for chasing promotions.
But if you come across as that’s all you’re after, it’s never going to go down well with your superiors.
Make sure your focus is on the job, the company, and how you can contribute to its success – not just what it can do for your bank account.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t negotiate for a fair salary, but it shouldn’t be your sole focus.
If you feel like you came across you were interested in the money more than the challenges of the role, it’s not a great sign.
5. Upon Reflection You’re Not Happy with How the Interview Went
Whenever I interview, how I feel during the interview is very different when compared to the days after when I’ve had time to dwell on it.
I always try to reflect on the interview, do some self-assessment and see where I could have improved.
If you feel like it didn’t go as well as you had hoped, it’s likely not a good sign for your chances of getting the promotion.
But try not to beat yourself up about it, use it as a learning experience for the future.
6. Your Manager Has Been Telling You How Important You Are in Your Current Role
A common reason for being passed over for a promotion is that you’re too important to your current role.
It doesn’t feel great to know this is the reason and it’s more of a reflection of how your management is failing than it is you doing something wrong.
But it’s important to remember that not getting the promotion doesn’t mean you’re not valued, it just means they need you where you are for now.
This is something you need to bring up with your boss and see if you can start training someone or sharing some of your current responsibilities.
7. You Can See Other Candidates Are Much Better Suited to The Role
There’s nothing wrong with the realization that you may have not been the best-suited or best-qualified for the promotion.
If you can see that another candidate is clearly more qualified or better suited to the role then it’s not a surprise that they may have gotten it instead of you.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for promotions, but make sure you’re applying for ones that you know you can excel in and stand out for.
8. You’ve Been Passed Over for Promotion Before
If you’ve been passed up for a promotion before and you feel like you’re in the same position, it’s important to take stock of why that may be.
Are you not putting in the effort to improve and grow in your current role? Are there certain skills or qualifications you may need to work on obtaining?
Maybe you’re not good at interviewing, that’s a very real possibility and it holds a lot of excellent candidates back.
It’s important to assess the situation and make changes so that you can have a better chance at future promotions.
9. There Is No Plan in Place to Fill Your Current Role
If you’re the only one capable of doing your job and there’s no plan in place for finding a replacement, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to promote you.
It’s not a reflection on your worth, it just means they need you where you are for now.
This can lead organizations to go with a different candidate for the promotion even though you’re a much better fit.
It’s one of the more frustrating signs and reasons why you’ll be passed over, but something you can bring up with your boss for the future.
10. Your Gut Feeling Is that You Didn’t Get the Promotion
I’m not saying your gut feeling is always going to be right, and it’s certainly a good feeling when it’s wrong and you get some unexpected good news!
But if your gut feeling is telling you that you didn’t get the promotion, it’s important to reflect on why you think this and what you wish you’d done differently.
When we truly feel something in our gut it’s often because our subconscious has picked up on various small, subtler signs and put them together.
Trust your gut feeling, but also make sure to take an impartial look at your situation and not get too tunnel-visioned on what ‘might’ happen.
How to Deal with The Rejection of Not Being Promoted
It’s always disappointing and disheartening to not get the promotion you were hoping for.
I’ve been there a number of times myself for promotions I had my heart set on, so I know exactly how it feels.
But it’s important to not let the rejection hold you back and use it as a learning experience for the future.
Take time to process your feelings and then talk with your boss about what you can do to improve for future promotions.
Look at the qualifications and skills for the promotion you didn’t get and see what steps you can take to obtain them.
Don’t let it stop your drive or passion, use it to fuel you and push you towards future successes.
If you’re really struggling to deal with the rejection, talk to someone close to you about it and air your feelings out.
It’s always helpful to have a support system during difficult times and they can give you a different perspective on the situation.
Should You Quit if You Don’t Get Promoted?
I hear a lot of people say they’re going to quit if they get passed over for a promotion, often due to frustration and finding it hard to deal with the knockback.
But you really shouldn’t quit for those reasons or any reasons related to not getting a promotion.
Quitting may seem like an easy solution at the time, but it’s not going to solve anything and will only harm your career in the long run.
Instead, take it as a learning experience and use it to continue growing and improving in your current role until the next potential promotion opportunity arises.
Alternatively, you can use this professional growth to move to another company when a role you want becomes available.
But it’s always better to line up those opportunities while you’re in your current role than it is to quit and try to figure it out from there!
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.