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Signs You're Not Getting Promoted (+ Expert Tips)

Andrew Langat
April 26, 2023
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In the workplace, promotion decisions are a touchy subject. As a talented employee, you might desire quick promotion, but this path is not linear, as management may opt for other considerations beyond technical skills.

For the lucky, promotion means an uptick in career progression and shows that leadership approves of your competency and this comes with more responsibilities and compensation.

With this in mind, many employees look forward to getting a promotion and carefully watch out for promotion signs.

This waiting process can be frustrating.


Although you might tick all the right boxes and manage well, you're still getting overlooked for a promotion. You may have put in the time, taken more responsibility, taken on critical projects, and completed them in a timely manner.

Even your co-workers have backed you up to move up to a higher rank. Moreover, you've presented your case for promotion to your boss. But still, you always get overlooked.

You might be missing some signs.

It helps to know these signs to manage expectations and avoid stress.

In this article, we will dive into them. We will also look at the reasons why this may be happening and discuss how you can work on getting promoted.

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7 Signs You're Not Getting Promoted

Watch out for the following signs in your organization that may indicate why you are not getting promoted.

1. You are assigned low-value jobs.

Individuals who are getting groomed for a leadership position are assigned highly visible projects that require a certain degree of panache for success.

For example, they are assigned to lead projects or to represent the CEO in high-profile meetings.

However, when your employer continuously assigns you low-value projects — such as data entry or scheduling meetings — that makes you invisible. In this case, it can be a sign you're not getting promoted.

2. Company performance is low.

Sometimes you may have a good case for promotion, but your manager tells you that "it's not the right time."

The company may be going through a flux period, and they are not making revenue, so your manager might feel that the company is not in a position to make a case for your promotion.

For any promotion decisions to be made by the company, all considerations must be made, including financial decisions. Therefore, if your company's financial health is shaky, it can be a sign that your promotion case will be stalled for a while.

3. No invitations to key meetings.

Key company meetings usually focus on the company's long-term future, and if you're excluded from such meetings, the company may feel you are not in their plans. Therefore, you should pay attention because it may be a sign you're not getting promoted.

4. Your performance is nitpicked.

You have been performing well but suddenly, everything is criticized. Beware, as this is another sign you're not getting promoted. 

Suppose you're receiving more constructive criticism than normal. This can be a way for your company to justify not promoting you. 

How to keep your performance from being nitpicked?

If there is nothing to justify the sudden criticism of your work, request feedback. This will offer more context for constructive feedback and can include information on how to improve as a team player.

5. Distance from leadership.

In your career goals and the quest to get promoted, you need to develop a relationship with your managers so that when a decision is made, they can look at a past relationship with their employees. But if, after a while, that relationship is broken, you may have a sense of tides shifting. It may be a sign you're not getting promoted.

6. You've become detached from your co-workers.

Being a high performer can have a two-way effect in the workplace. You may miss opportunities to build relationships necessary for a promotion if you've been heads down and don't have a team member to attest to you at work.

Worse still, you will miss the emotional connection important for leadership. This can lead to missed opportunities, including a promotion and pay raise when a vacancy arises.

7. Your work demeanor.

This a blessing or curse. Leaders may have to decide between some individuals, you included. So they put in a set of tests to check your technical ability and determine your leadership skills. Therefore, they may assign extra responsibility and gauge the results.

If you underperform at any level or show signs of being lax, the managers may have their answers, and you won't be up for promotion.

8. Lack of recognition.

Are you delivering results, but there is no recognition coming your way? If so, this is a clear sign you're not getting promoted.

This can be frustrating, leading to stress and even resignation. Lack of recognition can include, among other things, lack of thank you notes, absence of feedback, or even worse, others taking credit for your work.

This may happen through unconscious bias, fear of competition, or toxic company culture.

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What To Do if You Don't Get Promoted

You may feel distraught after getting overlooked for a job promotion, especially when you deserve it.

This can be demoralizing and discouraging.

Some may decide to switch companies or quit, but sometimes it's advisable to be strategic and try to remedy the situation.

Here are some things you can do if you're not promoted but desire promotion:

1. Request feedback.

Days after the promotion decisions have been made, you can approach the individuals involved and request feedback about why you didn't get promoted. Find what you can do to make yourself eligible for new opportunities.

This can be a difficult conversation, but it will be worth it.

You may get unhelpful feedback, but it's possible also to receive actionable insight. You may be missing a core skill you can learn through taking a class or volunteering for a new project. Or perhaps your work in one particular area needs improvement.

Either way, getting valuable feedback can help you plan the next steps in your career path.

2. Refrain from making comparisons.

If your colleague is preferred for a promotion. resist the urge to make comparisons on how you would have been a better fit for the position. It will just make you look petty and justify the decision. Moreover, poor communication contributes to a deterioration of relationships in the workplace, including with leadership. Learn how to communicate better. Better still, deliver quality work that will speak on your behalf.

3. Strategize your career.

You might realize that you've been overlooked for promotion for a long time, and the time to make changes has come. Strategic thinking can help you make those necessary changes. You can update your resume and start a job search. Alternatively, you can seek advice from a career coach or a trusted mentor to guide your decision-making.

4. Remain professional.

When you don't get promoted, crying or complaining will ultimately lower your chances of being considered. So, ensure you do your best to keep things professional because, if you're in a good company, the chance of getting a promotion will be available again.

If you behave professionally, leaders might notice and recommend you for a promotion in other departments.

5. Assess your promotion request.

If you fail at getting a promotion, take a step back and reflect on the whole picture. Look at things from an outsider's point of view and assess all possibilities. If it is your qualification or your experience, you can work on that to make you eligible for the next time.

You can talk with your manager about what can help you succeed in your quest for promotion. Ask specific questions that can give you insight into the processes and what you need to be aware of.

Identify why the company is in flux —If you can. Is it something that you can work to improve? For example, can you assist in bringing in more customers to improve the business? If so, communicate the same to management. If not, be patient until the company turns a corner.

6. Get assigned high-value jobs.

If you are qualified but continuously get assigned low-value jobs, this might be a perception problem. First, you need to learn about improving self-awareness. This will assist you in better understanding who you are, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

Secondly, develop a growth mindset to assist you in delivering the best work possible, no matter how mundane. This will pass a message that you can be trusted with more tasks.

7. Make your voice heard.

Consider how to make your input more valuable. For example, learn about strategies for running meetings and think about requesting meeting organizers invite you to teach them how to organize effective meetings.

If granted, you can show why you are a valuable team player.

Don't go into meetings to impress, but rather to add value. This way, you will pass the right message to the right people.

Inspiring, isn’t it ? Want to learn more about connecting self-awareness to professional development? Get in touch today.

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How Highrise Can Help

Highrise is an effective resource for individuals seeking to advance in their careers and achieve promotion. The program focuses on helping professionals identify their authentic leadership style and overcome any obstacles holding them back.

With Highrise, you can gain valuable insights and tools that will enable you to develop your strengths, become more comfortable with conflict, and communicate more confidently with colleagues and superiors.

By leveraging the resources provided by Highrise, our members can enhance their professional skills and abilities and position themselves for success in their current and future roles.

Sign up today and take your career to the next level.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.