9 Real Reasons You’re Not Getting Promoted



Have you ever felt stuck at your job? You know, when you feel like you aren’t moving forward in your current position, but you know you’d excel if awarded a promotion.

When promotion season enters your office, it can be an exciting yet stressful time. You personally feel like you have a lot of potential and are worthy of a promotion, but you continuously see your coworkers pass you by. When this happens, you can feel discouraged about your job and lose the motivation to keep trying.

It’s fair to say most people desire the opportunity to receive a promotion at least once in their careers. However, when that promotion doesn’t happen, it can feel pretty painful — especially when one of your coworkers becomes your new boss.

When you don’t receive a promotion, the first thing you need to do is re-evaluate your qualities as an employee. If you’re trying to figure where you went wrong in your position, here are nine reasons you were probably overlooked for a promotion:

1. You lack strong leadership skills.

Not everyone is a born leader, but it is possible to possess traits of a strong leader. When it comes to awarding promotions, the No. 1 quality employers look for is the ability to lead. Those who aspire to be leaders in their company are the ones who are most likely to receive the promotions. However, the goal isn’t enough — you must understand what it takes to be an effective leader.

To be a strong leader, you need to inspire people to accomplish goals, have effective communication skills, and understand the bigger picture. If you can develop these three qualities, you’ll have a better chance of landing a promotion. Good leaders are never stuck in their jobs. They’re always moving forward and finding new ways to improve and succeed.

2. Working hard isn’t enough.

If you think working hard is going to get you promoted, you might want to think again. You can spend countless hours in the office and be the most efficient worker, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be a candidate for a promotion. Employees often get stuck in the mindset that working harder will bring them more results. But what if your hard work doesn’t achieve results? What if your character or attitude is preventing you from being successful? When you’re trying to receive a promotion, you need to look at the bigger picture. The best employees are the complete package. Not only are they dedicated and hard working, but also they have the compassion, positive attitude, and leadership skills needed to be successful.

3. You have a sucky attitude.

No one wants to promote a Negative Nancy or a Betty Brown-noser. If you continuously complain about your workload, coworkers, or the company itself, chances are you won’t be a candidate for a promotion. Employees who receive promotions are typically those who have positive attitudes, work well in a team, and are all around kind and considerate people. If you don’t think of others or the needs of your employer before yourself, you’re probably not going to receive a promotion. You need to have an attitude that makes work a great place to be and gets work done.

4. Your soft skills aren’t up to par.

When it comes down to receiving a promotion, your soft skills will be the difference between you and the other candidate. Sixty-nine percent of employers look at soft skills when making a hiring decision. To make sure you are worthy of a promotion, make sure your soft skills are some of your strongest skills. You need to be an effective communicator, strong team player, reliable, and have motivation. Sure, while you might be an expert in your field, you can’t always depend on your hard skills to take you further. You need to have a balance between your hard and soft skills that will make you the perfect candidate for a promotion.

5. Your initiative took a hike.

Job promotions don’t magically fall into your lap by sitting and waiting. You need to have initiative and motivation if you plan on getting ahead in your career. If you sit at your desk all day pushing papers without a care in the world, you’re definitely not a candidate worthy of a promotion. Promotions are awarded to those who push themselves outside of their comfort zones to accomplish the goals for their company. You have to be willing to take some risks and try new things in order to be noticed by your employer. Drive is huge when it comes to being successful, and if it took a hike a year ago when you first started your job, it’s definitely not going to get you further up the ladder.

6. You don’t think like a boss.

Employers don’t give promotions to people they don’t see as future leaders. If you’re only showing up to work to get paid, how do you expect them to view you as a leader? Most people are passive in their careers and wait for opportunities to happen.

Even if you aren’t in a management position right now, this shouldn’t keep you from thinking like a boss. Great employees look for challenges and opportunities, even when it isn’t required of them. Going the extra mile in your position without seeking reward is what will get you noticed by your employer. You need to be driven, creative, and willing to do anything to bring success to your company. When you think like a boss, you’re able to develop the leadership mindset needed to manage and inspire others. This will help your employer see you are serious about making a difference in the company, thus making them more likely to see you has a candidate for a promotion.

7. You haven’t brought any results to the table. 

Results, results, results! This is the key to success for every company. If you aren’t making improvements or increasing sales for your employer, what’s the point of you moving up in the company? Even if you can’t guarantee results 100 percent of the time (after all, no one can), you still need to make the effort to accomplish goals. Employers want employees who genuinely care about their company’s goals. If you want to stop feeling stuck in your current position, you need to find new ways you can bring results to the table.

8. You’re lacking passion for your job.

Inspiring leaders are incredibly passionate. When you have passion for your work, you put all your energy and time into your projects. Passionate employees also embody the vision and mission of their companies and will go to the ends of the earth to make success happen. This type of passion is exactly what management is looking for when promoting an employee. Passion is infectious and can have a huge impact on your company. Chances are, if you’re going to receive a promotion, you’ll need passion that will inspire others. If you’re lacking this passion, your boss will definitely search for it elsewhere within your company.

9. You have high hopes.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with the same company for six months or five years. If you don’t have the qualities your employer desires when looking to promote someone, you’re not going to receive the promotion. Just because you were a loyal employee doesn’t mean you were the best employee. For all we know, you could have sat at your desk for five years allowing minutes to pass you by. People who receive promotions deserve it because of their drive, results, and passion. If you don’t have these qualities, you need to start figuring out how you can become a better employee before expecting a promotion.

Just because you were overlooked for a promotion doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, missing out on a promotion can provide you with a great opportunity to learn new skills and improve as a professional. If you strongly desire a promotion, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and see how you can improve from there. This will guide you in the right direction for receiving a promotion.

Have you ever been turned down for a promotion? What helped you improve as an employee?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.


  1. D.C.P. says

    Don’t forget #10- You might be a threat to your boss. Lots of bosses are CYA’ers. You’re kept in your current role so, you don’t overshadow your superior. Untold $$ revenue is lot by companies for keeping the status quo in place.

    These employees often leave and become a direct competitor to their former company. Then all the gloves are off.

  2. Jim Law says

    What about when the boss has promised promotion and does not deliver it come up excuses. Until he did not know very much about the business he will be dependent on you after he becomes little know about the business he starts bypassing you and putting me in bad light as the person has to come to me and I am responsible for the work and bypassed by inexperienced personnel who will comeo me and ask me will make things little uncomfortable. These employees will also start ignoring me because the boss is approaching them directly. Boss is playing that game of divide and rule as these employees and the me as supervisor will have some friction. Boss has been put in there because he is CEO’s friend and his major attributes are sales/Marketing not through best practices but through wining and dining and having his name on the restaurents walls by giving business to this restuarent.

    One will start feeling bad and start thinking about unethical approach. Going back to promotion promising and then not delivering is a big issue which one had to take for 14 years out of total 17 years service. Eventually one decided to take retirement even though , one was laeder, innovator, all the difficult clients and jobs were given to me. and delivered jobs which no body expected and for his or his cronies mistakes would blame me if things would not go right even though I was not in picture.

    HR is non existence and if one wanted to get out that area you could not because HR will not help.
    So the above are some of the issues but then there are some of other where poltics and goimng back on word goes onin Corporate America. So what you can get on joining one should take it afterwards it is all politics.

  3. James Depew says

    In most companies the only way to get a promotion is to be a “Betty Brown-noser”. I have found over my entire 40+ year career that those are the ones that get the prime promotions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>