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This is the third in a series of posts where I will show you the ins and outs of getting promoted. Missed the first two – you can learn Where Do I Start to Get Promoted and What Can I Do to Get Promoted here.

Why? Because my new course, GET PROMOTED is open and I want you to see how much juicy information will be packed into this four-week adventure. I hope you’ll join us!

I Haven’t been Promoted Yet Because… My Situation is Unique

There tends to be more exceptions , than “rules” when it comes to work situations. One of the most common thing clients say to me is that they haven’t been promoted yet because… and they will go on to explain how their situation is unique.

In other words, they share their excuses and internal stories.

I’ve heard it all – not having the most seniority, being related (or not related) to the decision maker, not being in the same office as their boss, working a flexible work schedule, and so on. Or maybe it’s because:

  • There isn’t a next step/level in my line of work
  • Someone above me has to leave before they’d consider promoting someone
  • I’m too smart – they’re envious and threatened by me
  • I don’t have a bachelor’s degree
  • I took FMLA leave this year
  • There’s a promotion freeze going on

It’s true – all of these examples create a unique environment to be considered for promotion. But they aren’t barriers to promotion, just speed bumps.

If you’re situation is unique, it will be even more critical to figure out and isolate the areas in which you do have control over, to influence. Figure out where you can make progress in increasing your odds in different parts of the promotion formula.

Essentially, promotion comes down to the business need/justification and the right person showing the aptitude and skills for the next level.  So let’s start breaking down some of the stories above.

1. There isn’t a next step/level in my line of work

This is an interesting situation in that there can be some truth to it at your current company, but getting promoted is about how you position your skills and experience. There is always another step ahead – it may not look like a ladder climb, going directly up, but if there is a position where you can learn and expand your knowledge base and make more money, than it’s the next step.

Figure out the critical skills that you possess and deliver them better than anyone else. Find the ways in which you can apply those skills to different departments, and your opportunity for promotion grows. In sales? Figure out how to package those sales skills to a business development or marketing position, then go after it.

There’s always a next step – it just not be a straight line.


2.  I’m too smart – they’re envious and threatened by me

You probably aren’t saying these exact words out loud, but I know you are thinking them. “I keep getting passed over because my boss knows that I would do a better job than she would.” Or, “I haven’t been promoted yet because I’m too good/smart/awesome.”

First, I want to say that I love your enthusiasm and self-esteem. That aside, I want to be clear – this isn’t the case. Your boss may be jealous and trying to sabotage your chances, which I’ll talk about later in the series, but the fact that you haven’t been promoted yet isn’t because they are threatened by your awesomeness.

This situation usually pops up when you don’t have the best relationship with or respect for your boss. I get it – I’ve been there. But companies want good people doing great work (if your company doesn’t feel that way, you definitely don’t want to be working there), even if your boss disagrees.

Your opportunity to get promoted in these scenarios, boils down to building the right relationships outside of your boss to become your allies and over-delivering all of the time.


3. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree

This is probably the most common thing I’m told. “The next level requires a bachelor’s degree and I don’t have one, just 10/15/20 years of experience in this field.”

Here’s the truth: experience trumps your degree when you have an established career. Particularly internally. If you are trying to get to the next level but haven’t even thrown your hat in the ring because of your lack of degree, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

Most of your manager’s have forgotten that you don’t have a degree, and the others won’t care if you can prove that you can take on and deliver at that next level. In other words, your answer/response will be all about your drive and ambition at work, instead.

Take your situation and find the place where you can increase your odds to turn your unique scenario and turn it into a positive. Even though you think your situation is different, remember – every situation is unique. It’s about the story or excuses we tell ourselves that put us behind from the start, on the promotion track.

So, that’s what you can and where you can start. Later this week I’m going to talk about Someone is Sabotaging Me. For now, go check out GET PROMOTED. Go on, it’s worth a look.