The question I was asked was: “I have been passed over for a promotion, what should I do?”
First of all, there is no cut and dry answer and it always depends on your circumstances, having said that there are a few things to take into account. It is easy to take it personally and feel very demoralised, it can also be the best thing to happen to you! The lens in which we see this usually determines our outcome.
First of all you need to identify the right person to give you feedback. This may be the supervisor or the panel chair. Some of the questions you need to consider asking are:
What were the panel looking for? This question will usually answer fairly quickly where you went wrong if you answered specifically what was in the job ad or job description. If they were looking for someone highly organised and it was in the job description and job ad, you really should have mentioned your organisational skills if you didn’t.
Was someone acting in the role? If someone has been acting in the role for some time, it’s generally a good indication that the person will more than likely be successful achieving the appointment. The organisation may be following a merit based process to keep the apppointment transparent. This happens mostly in government roles.
What areas did the recommended applicant out perform me? This is the obvious one to ask. You may have met all the criteria that the panel were looking for but perhaps the successful person had more experience in a particular area than you. This will give you a key insight into what other career paths people have taken to get a role like that one, and what are the gaps that you can now address.
Do you have any specific feedback for me and what would it take for me to be considered for a role like this in furture? Giving the panel member some freedom to discuss your feedback openly and without them feeling threatened is a great way to find out more, but it cal also be a way to build rapprt with them. You never know, the successful applicant may not work out and you could be who they call to replace them!
It can certainly be a disappointing feeling to feel overlooked for a promotion and can impact on your motivation. It’s a good time to meet with your boss and put together a learning and development plan for the coming year so that you have an opportunity to build the skills that you’d like to. You might be able to assist on a project or take on a task that will give you a chance to experience some of the challenges that you may not have had before. It can also be an opportunity to address if climbing the corporate ladder is really for you- perhaps a lateral move into a different department may be a better appointment for you. To identify this a career coach is a great start to getting that ball rolling.
So, if you’re overlooked for an appointment, always seek feedback and look for ways to start to build that skillset and market yourself effectively using your resume or LinkedIn profile so that you’re positioned ready for the next time an opportunity becomes available. Always be clear about the job ad and job description going into the interview and ask all the questions you can before attending an interview so that you can cover all the areas that a panel will be looking for.