I couldn’t believe it. After long hours, great reviews and crushing my performance goals, I wasn’t promoted.
For two years in a row, they had congratulated me, told me what I needed to do to get promoted, gave me a raise and then set the bar higher. But no promotion.
I was feeling dejected. Angry. Even betrayed. I decided that my future lay elsewhere.
You’re good at what you do. You fit well with your team and the organization. You receive solid performance appraisals and have a track record of accomplishment.
Then, when the chance for that promotion or key assignment you’ve been working toward finally arrives, you get passed over.
Welcome to an all-too-common reality.
Major career disappointments happen even when you appear to be doing all the right things.
Here are six steps to recover after a major career setback
Handle Your Emotions
Being passed over would make most of us feel like a failure or angry. You’re entitled to those feelings, but in the office, don’t let them show. Be classy. Demonstrate that you are a team player and that the company’s interests are forefront.
This doesn’t mean giving up, just that you recognize that publicly voicing your displeasure will not likely advance your interests.
If you need to vent, set up a support system with friends or family. Your support system can provide a sympathetic audience for your venting.
More importantly, gain 3rd party insight into recent events, insights that might help you decipher not only what happened but why and what it might mean for you. This is a powerful opportunity to engage with a career coach.
Analyze the Cause
Career disappointments can take many forms. How you respond depends on the actual cause. Here are a few of the most common causes, and suggestions for how to respond:
Fit: In most cases, you don’t have control or influence over the employer’s hiring requirements. While you might think you’re the perfect fit for an internal promotion, you may not understand the company’s idea of the perfect fit -- one that is based on soft rather than hard skills.
If this is the case, it’s a clue that you need to understand better yourself and where you belong. It’s also a clue that you need to better qualify your goals in the future. Often, what you may think is the next most logical career step won’t be the best fit.
Not measuring up: In most cases, you have internal and/or external competition. The decision-makers have in mind a level of competencies, expertise, experience and impact required for the role. You might be missing something or did not convince them that you have the level of competency they require.
Learn from this. What is lacking in your career portfolio? Specific knowledge or experience? Demonstrated track record of results in key areas required for the role? An ability to articulate how you get results?
You didn’t lay the groundwork: It would be naïve to think that all promotion/hiring decisions are entirely based on merit and facts. People make decisions, and in the mix of the decision can be champions, influencers, active detractors or simply people who don’t know you or believe in you enough to give you a chance. Relationships count. Profile counts.
Learn from this. Have you neglected the management and building of your reputation? The development of key relationships?
You’re needed where you are: Let’s face it. Organizations make decisions that are in their best interest, not yours. You may be doing such a good job in your current position that your manager doesn’t want to let you go. It may be easier or cheaper for her to find someone else to fill that other job than it would be to move you into that position and then have to find someone to replace you.
This is a difficult situation. You either need to find a way to move up within the existing organization, or you need to look elsewhere.
Evaluate Your Options
This is where you strategize about possible responses. Once you understand why you’ve been passed over, you need to decide whether to:
Stay with the company and work toward the next opportunity.
Stay with the company, but work toward a different goal.
Look for that step up or growth at another company.
The key is that you have the power to choose. Figure out what you want and why.
Close the Gap
Once you know what you want to do, examine the gap between where you are now and what you want. What’s missing? If it’s learning or experience, how will you get it? If it’s your professional network, how will you build it? Design a plan to close that gap.
Recalibrate Your Goals
Based on what you’ve learned about your setback, the choice you’ve made about your future and the analysis you’ve done about where you are and where you want to go, reset your goals. Identify specific goals that will move you forward in your career.
For example, you may have identified a lack of visibility within the company as a weakness. Rather than setting a vague goal of networking better, start by mapping the power structure in your area and selecting a few key individuals who you feel would be important to have a relationship with. Give yourself a deadline and proceed accordingly.
Careers, like life, don’t always go the way you hope or expect them to. Disappointments are unavoidable.
How well you respond to them will be the real measure of your future success. Working with a career coach will help you unpack the situation, and explore your options to move forward with a positive attitude and strong strategy. Reach out to us to confidentially explore career coaching.
Until next week Reader,
CEO & Chief Career Strategist - Bold Career