Jobs

30 Promotion Killers: Why You’re Not Getting Promoted At Work



Have you ever felt like you’re stuck on the same rung of the corporate ladder while everyone else is zooming past you? You’re not alone. It’s not easy to get promoted at work. In fact, there are 30 common pitfalls that might be holding you back from that promotion.


If you’re wondering why you’re not getting promoted at work, here are some possible reasons why you haven’t moved up the corporate ladder yet.

 1. Lack Of Conflict Resolution Skills

No matter how nice or easy-going you are, you will inevitably find yourself in conflict. People will not always agree with you, and you will not always agree with others.

I know a little bit about conflict resolution. It was the topic of my dissertation at Harvard. I have found that collaboration is key to positively resolving conflict. When you collaborate with the person with whom you’re in conflict, you focus on meeting both your needs and their needs. This helps you bring together both of your viewpoints to get the best solution.

When you collaborate, neither person is likely to feel as if they won or lost. Successful people, the people who get promoted, are adept at resolving conflict in a positive manner. They’re collaborative; and when you collaborate with others—especially those with whom you are in conflict—you’re not only likely to resolve your conflict in a positive manner but you’re also likely to strengthen your relationship with the other person. It’s a win-win.

Successfully dealing with conflict is somewhat counterintuitive. By definition, conflict is a state of disagreement. When you’re in conflict with someone, instead of focusing on where you disagree, focus on where you both agree. That’s collaboration in action. This is a great way to not only resolve the conflict but also strengthen relationships. And, as we all know, conflict often leads to a deterioration of relationships.

This approach is a no-brainer. First, you get to resolve conflict positively. Second, you strengthen your relationships. Third, you improve your chances of getting the promotion you want and deserve.

2. Not Paying It Forward

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you. While there’s nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there’s a fundamental problem with quid pro quo. It’s reactive, not proactive. Too many people wait for others to go first. They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.” This scarcity mentality is not conducive to building the strong relationships you need to get the promotion you want.

When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have. This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get. On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality. When you give with no expectation of return, you are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large—and that good things will come back to you.

Giving with no expectation of return is ironic. I have found that the more I give, the more I receive, often from unlikely sources. But that’s not my reason for giving—and I hope it is not yours. The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in your company. It helps that people who pay it forward are more likely to get promoted.

3. No Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of good communication. It’s the first step in building positive relationships and resolving conflict in a positive manner. Self-aware people understand how they are similar to and different from other people. They use this insight to help them do things like initiate relationships with a variety of people; determine how much they should disclose about themselves at various points in a relationship; and determine the appropriate amount of emotional support they should offer others.

Self-aware people also use their knowledge of themselves and others to determine when and how to assert their displeasure with another person’s actions and to manage and resolve interpersonal conflicts. If you understand yourself, you can better understand others.

I’ll use myself as an example. I make intuitive leaps. My mind goes from A to B to F. Most people aren’t like me. They process information sequentially. Their minds go from A to B to C to D to E to F. When I am with these people, I don’t blurt out my intuitive leaps. When I have one, I go back and fill in the B to C to D to E before I come out with F. In this way, I am better able to get my point across to my sequentially thinking colleagues and clients.

Get to know yourself. Use this self-knowledge to better understand and communicate with others. This will help you become a more influential person and get that elusive promotion.

4. Can’t Manage Your Boss

Your boss is the one person who can most influence your chances of getting promoted. Before any promotion offer is made, your boss will be asked for their input. Trust me on this one. If you have a good relationship with your boss, your chances of getting promoted increase greatly.

The best way to manage your boss is to make them look good. You do this by being a good performer—delivering work that reflects well on you, your department, and your boss.

Think of it this way. If you do a good job, your boss is more likely to get promoted. When your boss is asked who would be a good replacement—and believe me, they will be asked this question—they are more likely to choose you if you’ve done a good job and built a strong relationship with them.

Managing your boss is pretty simple. Keep them informed of what you’re working on and how it’s going. Ask them how you can help the department move forward. Volunteer for tough jobs. Ask for quarterly performance reviews to make sure you’re on track. Build a cordial relationship with them. Your boss has a lot to say about whether or not you get the promotion you want. Increase your chances of a positive recommendation by building a strong, trusting relationship with them.

5. Online Stupidity

Everybody knows employers Google you before they invite you in for an interview. Fewer people realize that people in your own company Google you when you’re up for a promotion.

When people Google you, what do they see? Pictures of you pounding a beer at a baseball game? Pictures of you hanging out with Hooters girls? Or do they see photos in good taste—a nice shot of you and your spouse, or a picture of you and your kids? You may not like to hear this, but this stuff counts. You want to come across as a serious professional online—not some drunk fraternity or sorority kid.

I stay away from religion and politics on my blogs and Facebook posts. You never know who might take offense to your religious or political beliefs. If these beliefs are really important to you, go ahead and make them known online. But remember, you may suffer some consequences. I think it’s best to play it safe online. Brand yourself as a serious professional. That’s what the folks who are making promotion decisions are looking for.

6. Poor Attire

I once saw a tweet online that said, “The impression you make when first meeting someone is 7% verbal, 28% body language, and 65% visual.” I retweeted that one. I’m not sure if the numbers are 100% accurate, but they are pretty much aligned with my personal experience.

How you dress does count. When you’re going to work, look like you’re going to work—especially if you want that promotion. If you work for a large company, you’ll notice that your senior executives dress well. Most days, they’ll be wearing a suit. You don’t have to wear suits all the time, but you should follow their example. In general, you’ll find that executives wear clothing that fits well and is clean and in good repair. You should too.

Remember that “business” is the first word in “business casual.” Dress like you’re going to work and are serious about your job. Here’s a piece of advice I give to my coaching clients. Every morning, before you leave for work, stop and look in the mirror. Ask yourself this question: “Does what I’m wearing today indicate that I respect myself and the people I’ll meet today?” If the answer is yes, go ahead and knock ‘em dead. If the answer is no, head back to your closet and change.

7. Not Branding Yourself

If you want a promotion, job, or career success, you have to consciously build the image you want to project. Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don’t brand yourself, others will. Abraham Lincoln once said something that applies here: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” The idea of constantly striving “to be worthy of recognition” captures the essence of creating a positive personal image. People who create a positive personal image have three things in common:

  • They develop and nurture their unique personal brands.
  • They are impeccable in their presentation of self.
  • They know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.
If you develop and nurture your unique personal brand, present yourself well, and use the basic rules of etiquette consistently, you will become recognized as a person with positive personal impact.

There are two keys here. First, work constantly and continually at creating your positive personal image and on building your personal brand. Second, realize that this won’t come overnight. You have to work at it. That’s the idea behind the first part of Mr. Lincoln’s quote—“don’t worry when you are not recognized.”

Your attire counts. When I pack for business trips, I pull out two or three pairs of dark charcoal gray slacks, a black or blue blazer, several white shirts, and striped ties. I always wear white shirts and striped ties when I visit my clients. Often, they tell me that I don’t need to dress up as they are a business casual office. I always reply by saying, “I put on my tie today because I knew I would be seeing an important person—you.” This comment always gets a smile—and from what I can tell, people are flattered by it. It helps my personal image.

When it comes to etiquette, I have one simple piece of advice: Do whatever it takes to make the people around you feel comfortable.

8. Having A Bad Image

Be very conscious of the image you present. I have a very successful friend. He sold a company he founded for about $100 million. Yet, when I first met him, he was struggling to get a promotion at his company. Why? He is a smart guy and a good businessman. But he had a poor image inside his company.

He’s a fun guy. Enjoys sports, a good laugh, and a beer or two now and then. Somehow this got him branded as immature. Whenever his name came up for a promotion, he was dismissed immediately. The dreaded “immature” tag saw to that.

He eventually had to leave that company and move to another where he set about consciously building his image. He was able to create an image as a serious businessman who could consistently deliver solid bottom-line results. He flourished in the new company, in large part because he managed his image. This gave him the confidence to start his own business. His success speaks for itself.

9. Poor Writing Skills

Good writing will set you apart from the crowd and put you on the road to career success. Most unsuccessful people are poor writers. They are unclear. They ramble. Their emails, letters, and reports are a series of long sentences filled with big words that don’t really say anything.

You can’t catch people’s attention by writing this way. You need to write in a clear, crisp, concise manner in order to get that promotion. Your objective in writing at work is to communicate—not to impress others with your vocabulary. Make sure you write with your reader in mind.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to read aloud what you’ve written to get a feel for how it will sound to your reader. Write in short, simple sentences. Use the simplest words you can to get across your point, while still being accurate. Write fast. Get your thoughts on paper or the computer screen as quickly as you can. Then edit and rewrite until you’ve said exactly what you want to say.

One of my first bosses always told me that rewriting is the secret to good writing. Spelling counts, too. Correct spelling does two things for you. First, it shows that you have a good command of the language. Second, and more importantly, correct spelling demonstrates that you respect both yourself and the reader. Misspelled words stand out like sore thumbs to readers. Don’t just spell-check your documents. Proof them. Spellcheck often won’t pick up improper usage in words like “your” and “you’re,” “hear” and “here,” and “their,” “they’re,” and “there.”

The same holds true for punctuation. Make sure that you know how to properly use periods, question marks, commas, colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, quotation marks, and apostrophes. If you’re not sure about punctuation rules, spend a little time on the internet learning proper usage.

10. Poor Presentation Skills

Want that promotion? Presentations are opportunities to shine. Just like with conversations, careers have been made—or broken—by one presentation. You need to treat every presentation as a career-enhancing or detracting event. Refining your presentation skills will make your promotion pitch that much more effective to your boss.

A lot of people suffer from presentation anxiety. Public speaking can be frightening, although it doesn’t have to be. Presenting is like any other process: there is a series of logical steps to follow.

Years ago, I learned a simple five-step process for effective presentations. Below, I’ll share the material I covered in a three-day workshop on presentation skills. Breaking the presentation process down into these five easily manageable steps is the best way I know to get over presentation anxiety.

  1. Determine your message.
  2. Analyze your audience.
  3. Organize your information for impact.
  4. Design supporting visuals.
  5. Practice, practice, practice.

Ask yourself these questions to help you determine your message:

  • What do you want or need to communicate?
  • What information does the audience need?
  • Why do they need it?
  • At the end of the presentation, what should the audience understand? Remember? Do?

Determine the best way to communicate your message by analyzing your audience. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the audience for this presentation?
  • Why are they attending?
  • What is their general attitude toward you and the topic?
  • What is their knowledge level on this topic?

Use the golden rule of journalism to organize your information: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.”

  • Begin at the end. Prepare your presentation ending first. This is helpful because it keeps you focused on where you’re going.
  • Prepare your presentation beginning. A good beginning has two things: a hook and an outline of your talk.
  • Fill in the blanks with your content.

Design visuals to support and enhance what you are saying. Good visuals support the points you are making, create audience interest, improve audience understanding, and save you time—a picture is worth a thousand words, and they are memory aids.

Practice, practice, practice. There is an old saying, “Practice makes up for a lack of talent.” Prior to getting in front of an audience, say your presentation out loud—several times. Listen to yourself. Consider recording yourself. If you don’t have the equipment, practice in front of a mirror, or your spouse, or your dog or cat—just practice.

11. Poor Conversation Skills

If you want to get a promotion, you have to learn to handle yourself in conversation. A brief conversation with the right person can greatly help—or hinder—your chances of getting promoted.

In a conversation, two types of activities occur simultaneously: speaking and listening. In good conversations, both of these are continuous and productive. In plain English, when you’re in a conversation, if you’re not speaking and providing information, you need to be listening and receiving it.

Asking good questions is an important way to become known as a great conversationalist. But in order to take full advantage of the questions you ask, you need to really listen to the answers and respond appropriately.

Here are my top seven tips for becoming a good listener—and conversationalist.

  1. Look the other person in the eye when they are speaking. This demonstrates that you are engaged with them.
  2. Listen to understand what the other person is saying—not to plan your rebuttal.
  3. Listen really hard when the other person begins by saying something with which you don’t agree.
  4. Know the words that trigger your emotions. Don’t get distracted by them.
  5. Be patient. Some people take longer than others to make their point. Don’t interrupt.
  6. Ask clarification questions when you don’t understand.
  7. Repeat what you have heard the other person say—to make sure you got it right, and to show them that you were listening.

If you use these seven tips in conversation, you will become known as a great conversationalist and be on your way to the career success you deserve.

12. Not Being Healthy

You can’t perform at a high level if you’re not healthy. If you don’t perform at a high level, you can’t get promoted. The better you feel, the better you’ll perform.

Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat well. Exercise. Get regular checkups. You have to be in reasonable shape if you want to get that promotion. A reasonable level of fitness will help you deal with the inevitable stress that accompanies creating a successful life and career. Diet and exercise are the keys to living a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic, but you do need to get some exercise and pay attention to what you eat.

You don’t have to become a fitness fanatic to be a high performer. However, eating well and exercising will keep you sharp and on top of your game. It will keep your stress in check. And while a little stress is a good thing, too much stress can knock you out of the game and the promotion you want.

13. Not Being A Team Player

If you want to get a promotion, you need to realize that business is a team sport, and team players get promotions.

Here are my seven tips for being a team player:

  1. Suggest solutions to the problems you identify and raise. Identifying problems is easy. Coming up with solutions is hard. Do it.
  2. Never play the blame game. You alienate everyone around you. Publicly identifying and blaming others for failures creates enemies. These enemies will help you fail. You need allies—not enemies—at work.
  3. Treat people with courtesy and respect. It’s never appropriate to raise your voice to a colleague or co-worker.
  4. Never blindside people. Keep your colleagues in the loop. Discuss problems with the people directly involved before discussing them with others.
  5. Keep your commitments. When you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other people. When you can’t keep a commitment, make sure you let other people know right away. Give them a new due date and then honor it.
  6. Share credit for accomplishments, ideas, and contributions. It’s very rare to accomplish a goal or complete a project with no help from others. Take the time, and expend the energy, to thank, reward, recognize, and specify the contributions of the people who help you succeed.
  7. Help other people find their greatness. Every person has talents, skills, and experience. If you help people harness their best abilities, that benefits them and your organization immeasurably. Compliment, recognize, praise, and notice others’ contributions. You don’t have to be a manager to help create a positive, motivating environment.

14. Sloppy Work

Your work says a lot about you. Clean, complete work defines you as a professional, someone worthy of a promotion. Messy, incomplete work defines you as someone who doesn’t care—and is not worthy of a promotion.

I always advise my coaching clients to sweat the small stuff. It’s the small stuff, the details, that helps you create a professional image.

Make sure your emails are well-written and grammatically correct. Read them, don’t just spell-check them. Practice your presentations before you give them—out loud. Anticipate questions you’ll get in a presentation and bring back up information with you so you can answer those questions.

Your work is a reflection of you. It can show that you care, or that you’re just getting by. If you want to get promoted, demonstrate that you care about the quality of your work. Good enough is never good enough. Make all of your work the best it can be.

15. Procrastinating

Procrastination leads to missed deadlines. It also leads to stress and a poor image. Procrastination is a promotion killer with a capital “K.”

Procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear. Most people fear failure, criticism, and rejection. It’s only normal. We all want to feel good about ourselves. Failure, criticism, and rejection are not pleasant experiences. They lower our self-esteem and make us feel bad about ourselves, so we often avoid doing things that we think might lead to failure, criticism, or rejection.

You have the courage to do things that might result in failure, criticism, or rejection. Here are some great questions to ask yourself the next time you find yourself procrastinating because of your fear of failure, criticism, or rejection.

  • Why did I fail?
  • Why did I get criticized or rejected?
  • What did I do to cause the failure, criticism, or rejection?
  • What could I have done to prevent the failure, criticism, or rejection?
  • What have I learned from this situation?
  • What will I do differently the next time?

If you do this, you’ll be better able to face your fears and act, you’ll stop procrastinating, you’ll be using failure, criticism, and rejection to your advantage, and you’ll be positioning yourself for a promotion.

16. Not Following Through

A lot of people tell me that they have difficulty finishing projects. This is a promotion killer. You have to be seen as someone who follows through and gets things done if you want to get promoted. But remember, you have to start before you can finish.

Jill Koenig, one of my online friends, posted this bit of wisdom on her Facebook page a while back… “To accomplish big things, you must do the small things. This overcomes inertia. To accomplish the small things, visualize the big-picture outcome. This overcomes overwhelm.”

That’s exactly the kind of career advice I’m talking about when I advise my coaching clients to break large projects into small chunks. Small steps and mini-milestones will help you overcome the inertia that can stop you from beginning—or finishing—a big project. On the other hand, you also have to keep focused on the big picture to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer number of small tasks involved in completing a big project. I’ve written over 15 books. Believe me, writing a book will teach you the importance of following through.

One more piece of advice here: I always start large projects late in the afternoon. I do this to create momentum. Even though I barely scratch the surface of the project, I get up the next day ready to go because I have accomplished something on the project and have momentum on my side. Try this the next time you are faced with a big project. It works.

17. Missing Deadlines

Deadlines are usually there for a good business reason. Miss them at your own risk. Your work is almost always part of a chain that leads to corporate profitability. When you’re late, or miss a deadline completely you’re gumming up the works. That’s why it’s important to meet your deadlines and commitments—especially if you want a promotion.

If you find that you’re not going to meet a deadline, tell the person who is counting on you and your work right away. Don’t let the deadline pass without saying anything. This is not only good manners but it also helps the other person manage their workload. Finally, don’t complain about being micromanaged if you miss a lot of deadlines and your boss starts following up with you. That’s their job and the price you pay for not being reliable.

18. Acting Stressed 24/7

I once read an article that had some really terrible career advice. The author suggested that it’s good to give the appearance that you’re harried, so busy that you don’t even have time to finish lunch. He said you can accomplish this by leaving a half-empty cup of oatmeal on your desk in the morning and a half-eaten sandwich on your desk in the afternoon. Not only does this have a high “yuck” factor, but it also brands you as someone whose professional life is out of control.

Even if you’re feeling a little out of control, don’t let it show (especially if you’re trying to get a promotion). I bet you know at least one person who always responds negatively when you ask how they are doing. You know what I’m talking about—answers like “just peachy,” in a sarcastic tone, or “same stuff, different day.” Don’t be one of these people. Present yourself as a well-organized professional, someone who is in control.

19. Being Disorganized

I’ve seen plenty of people lose a promotion because they were branded as “disorganized.” Start with managing your time. Only engage in unimportant activities like scrolling on social media in your leisure time. Complete unimportant but urgent activities quickly and move on. Focus on important and urgent tasks. Get them done well and in a timely manner. Create time to work on important but not urgent tasks. This will give you a leg-up on your competition and lead to that promotion you really want.

You have to do a good job with time management, but time management is not the only key to personal organization. Get organized if you want that promotion. Organize your time, life, and workspace. Sweat the small stuff. Success is in the execution. Execution is in the details. Create a personal organization system that works for you. More importantly, give the appearance of being organized. Be seen as someone who has all the details at their fingertips.

20. Not Understanding Your Company’s Business

Business acumen allows you to understand your company’s overall strategy and how the company competes in the marketplace. It helps you speak the language of business. This lets you communicate with senior leaders in your company and show them that you’re aware of the issues they deal with daily. Developing business acumen shows others that you’re a business generalist, not a specialist—an important key to getting a promotion.

One way to see how well you understand your company’s business is to see if you can answer 11 questions. For the most recent fiscal year-end:

  1. How much cash was on hand?
  2. How much cash was generated from operating activities?
  3. What was the total net income?
  4. What was the net profit margin?
  5. What were the total sales?
  6. What was the inventory turnover rate?
  7. What was the return on assets?
  8. How much did sales grow over the previous year?
  9. How much did net income grow over the previous year?
  10. How much did earnings per share grow over the previous year?
  11. How do all of the above compare to your competition?

The answers to these questions are in your company’s annual report. Study it and learn the answers, then you’ll be on your way to getting the promotion you want. If you still don’t get it, take a finance colleague to lunch and ask them to explain the answers to you.

21. Not Understanding Business

I hear it a couple of times a week. One of my clients says, “I didn’t get the promotion I wanted. When I asked why, I was told that I’m not strategic enough.” That can be a catch-all phrase to explain why another candidate was chosen over you. Oftentimes, it has no real meaning. On the other hand, not being strategic, not demonstrating that you see and understand the big picture, can be an impediment to your corporate climb.

As you move up the corporate ladder, you have to become more strategic. You need to learn about some promotion killers. You need to develop your business acumen. Think of business acumen in two ways. First, you have to have a basic understanding of how your company makes money. This means that you have to have a working knowledge of finance, marketing, sales, and operations. Second, you have to use this to make sound decisions that contribute to your company’s profitability.

22. Not Staying Current

Stay up on things, in your field, in your company, in your industry, and in business in general. Not being current is a surefire way to sabotage your promotion opportunities.

When you interview for a promotion you can be sure that you’ll be asked questions about what’s new in your field. You need to be ready to answer these questions. You need to demonstrate that you’re up on the latest technology and ideas in your field. This means you need to become a lifelong learner.

My best common sense suggestion for becoming a lifelong learner is simple. Read. Read technical journals. Read trade magazines. Read business publications like The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, and Forbes. If you think they’re too stodgy, read Fast Company. Read your company’s annual report. Read your competitors’ annual reports. Read your local newspaper and The New York Times. Read news magazines like Newsweek and Time. Read business and industry blogs. Read ezines and eBooks. Read books. Reading is the best way to stay up with what’s happening in your field, your company, your industry, and your business.

There are also other things you can do to keep learning. Attend seminars. Join the major groups or trade associations for your industry. Attend their meetings and participate. Take a class at your local university. Use your company’s tuition reimbursement program to get a free degree.

23. No Internal Mentor

No one can do it alone. You have to have someone in your corner. If you want to get that promotion, find a mentor. Mentors are positive people who will help you find the lessons in your experience and use them to move forward. Mentors are people whose hindsight can become your foresight. Do you want to find a mentor? Just look around you. Who are the people you admire and want to emulate? Watch what they do, and do the same.

I’ve had several mentors who never even realized they were mentoring me. The reverse is also true. I’ve learned plenty about what not to do to build self-esteem, give performance feedback, and treat people with respect and dignity from observing a few of my managers over the years. I’ve created an acronym to define what it takes to become a good mentor.

A good mentor…

M Motivates you to accomplish more than you think you can.

E Expects the best of you.

N Never gives up on you or lets you give up on yourself.

T Tells you the truth, even when it hurts.

O Occasionally kicks your butt.

R Really cares about you and your success.

Look for people with these qualities when you are searching for a mentor. Embody them yourself when you are mentoring others.

24. Having A Negative Outlook

Your attitude drives a lot of your results. You get to choose your attitude. A pessimistic, negative attitude won’t help you get the promotion you want. An optimistic, positive attitude will.

Choose optimism. Believe that things will turn out well. Often they will, sometimes they won’t. When they don’t, don’t sulk. Learn what you can and use it next time. Follow the Optimist Creed…

Promise yourself:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
I love the Optimist Creed. I have it framed and hanging in my office, just above my desk. I have made a PDF of the Optimist Creed that is suitable for framing. If you want a copy, just click here.

25. Being Too Shy

Wallflowers don’t get promoted. You may be the kind of person who thinks that your work will speak for itself—that all you have to do is keep your head down and do a good job, and the promotions will follow. Unfortunately, they won’t. You have to put yourself out there.

Let your boss know your long-term and short-term goals. Ask for his or her help. Find a mentor who can guide you in your career journey. Never be afraid to ask for help. Volunteer for the jobs no one wants.

I once got a promotion because I volunteered to lead the United Way campaign at the company where I worked. No one wanted that job—who wants to ask their co-workers for money? On the other hand, my company was a big supporter of the United Way. By volunteering for the job, I got to meet several senior executives—one of whom offered me a great promotion.

Don’t be shy, put yourself out there.

26. Getting Discouraged

Didn’t get the promotion? You’re going to experience some rejection and setbacks as you pursue those elusive promotions. That’s a fact. But remember this: The career success game is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to win, you have to keep at it. Don’t let a setback or two get you down. You have to pick yourself up and go back to work the next day.

You demonstrate your commitment to your career success by doing three things. First, take personal responsibility for getting the jobs and promotions you want. Only you can make you a success. Be willing to do the things necessary to succeed. Second, set high goals—and then do whatever it takes to achieve them. Third, stuff happens; as you go through life you will encounter many problems and setbacks. Don’t get discouraged and give up too soon. React positively to the setbacks and keep moving forward toward your goals, dreams, and career success.

27. Weak Goals

If you’re going to get the promotion you want, you need to set SMART goals. These goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. SMART goals will keep you focused and moving on a path that will help you get ahead.

Sometimes, that path might not be as straight as you would like. It might involve some twists and turns along the way. That’s why you need to keep the big picture in mind. If you know exactly where you want to end up, it’s easier to see how all the pieces fit together.

Goals are important. You can’t get what you want if you don’t know where you’re going. Written goals are the first step when it comes to life and career success. Sharpening your goals until they are clear and concise is the second step.

If you don’t have written goals for your life and career, write some tonight. Then, check them against the SMART criteria. Make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Do this and you’ll be well ahead in the career success game.

28. Blaming Others

Things don’t always work out in your career. There will be times when you’re an excellent candidate for a promotion but you still don’t get it. This is frustrating. But it’s also an opportunity.

Successful people are resilient. They approach rejection and failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

You need to take positive action if you don’t get the promotion you think you deserve. Politely inquire about your interview performance. Ask what you could have done to come across better. Take this feedback to heart. Take a look at your skills. What’s lacking in your portfolio that could have led to the promotion? Do whatever you can to develop these skills. Volunteer for projects in your company. Get some additional education and training. Get active in professional societies where you can take a leadership role.

Don’t blame others when you don’t get a promotion. Take a hard look at yourself. Identify your growth areas. Develop the skills that will put you at the top of the promotion list the next time around. See if you committed any of the promotion killers in this article.

29. Unclear Values

As the John Mellencamp song goes, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” That’s why it’s important to know what’s important to you when you are considering a promotion.

If your kids are young, you might not want a job that keeps you on the road 80% of the time. If your spouse has a good job and their prospects for advancement look good, you might not want to relocate. On the other hand, if your career success goals involve climbing the ladder in your current company, you might want to consider a lateral move to demonstrate your commitment to your company and your willingness to broaden your base of experience.

Make sure that you turn any unclear values you may have into easy-to-understand rules, so it’s easier for you to react consistently, no matter whom or what you’re dealing with. Knowing what you value, what you want out of your life and career, can really help you make the right decisions that will lead to the promotions you want and deserve.

30. Chronic Job Applicant

Some people think that applying for every job that comes along brands them as someone who is career-oriented and committed to their company. Not true. When you apply for every job that opens, you come across as desperate for a promotion.

You don’t want to get the” desperate” label attached to you. Decision-makers see chronic job applicants as unfocused and unclear about their life and career goals. They assume you’re more interested in the title and money that comes with a promotion than making a positive impact in the job you’ve applied for.

Don’t be a chronic job applicant. Be selective. Get focused. Apply for those jobs in which you have a legitimate interest and, more importantly, the skills to perform the job. Being selective will increase your chances of getting that elusive promotion. You’ll brand yourself as a real pro in your field.

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