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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Passed Over for a Promotion

Dear Sue: I am dumbfounded. Someone else just got the promotion we all thought was mine. I should have been the one promoted. I don’t know if I should quit or stay, but I do know I am not happy about what has happened. Is hard work worth anything anymore?

- Disenchanted

Sue Says: I am sorry you did not get the promotion you were counting on. Although you are disappointed, I hope you will take some time to process what has happened and that you will take some time before making any long term decisions based on what has happened.

I know you’ve worked hard. I know you’re disappointed and rightfully so. However, as bad as things seem right now, I want you to know this incident and your future may not be as bleak as you think. In fact, although it may be difficult for you to understand now, this could be one of the best things that could have happened to you.

This is a pivotal time for you—a time for you to assess yourself, determine what you want, and become proactive in having it. But you must be willing to do some work and answer what can be difficult questions to answer. Are you?

Think about the reasons you wanted this promotion. Was this position what you really wanted? Why do you think you were a better fit for the position than the person who got the job? Why do you think you didn’t get it?

Did you assume others knew how much this promotion meant to you—did you do everything you could to sell yourself as the most qualified candidate? What, if anything, could you have done differently to increase your chances of getting what you wanted?

Have you asked why you didn’t get the promotion? Have you talked with those who can help you understand? No matter what you assume, you might be surprised to learn the reasons why. Perhaps your talents are better suited for another position. Maybe you need to develop your skill in a particular area that was holding you back. Once you know the reasons you were passed over you can inquire about what you need to do to increase your chances of being promoted in the future.

Have you made your ambitions known? No one will know what you want unless you tell them. What is your intention? Are there future opportunities where you are or is time for you to look outside of the organization to get where you want?

You will benefit by learning all you can about why this happened. The reasons you concoct will not serve you—the truth will. It may have nothing to do with you, but you won’t know unless you ask. Continue to do whatever you can to help you get what you want. The most difficult will be letting go of your disappointment, but once you do you will be free to move on and forward into the direction of your choice. I wish you the best.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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