BLUF: I have been told I am unpromotable iny current place of employment. I have also been told I have a great resume. How do I handle the inevitable questions about this?


I had an interview within my company two weeks ago but not for my site. Whereas the interviewer was impressed with my resume (thanks MT), he was very curious as to why my site hasn't promoted me yet. How should I handle this question in the future? 

naraa's picture
Training Badge

 I am not sure exactly how you answer it in an interview but I have seen it far too often good people, especially those that grew within the organization not being promoted due to two reasons:

1- they are too good in what they do and their managers don't want to promote them because cannot replace them on their current role.  

2- the grass is always greener somewhere else.  The senior managers the promotable person works for know the persons strength and also the weaknesses.  Sometimes they think this person needs to grow out of his weakness before considering her ready for promotion, not realizing the person is already ready.  It is like the mother that still picks up the child from school while the child is capable of coming home on their own.

Sometimes I have also seen people with a great resume but which have a difficult character to work with and this has been the reason they have not been promoted.

I guess you must understand what is the reason you are not promotable within your site.and then find a way to say that same reason, the truth, in a way that doesn't sound like complaining, in a way that doesn't take your responsibility away from it, and somehow you are great full for the experiences you have had so far and have been able to produce you with such a good resume but are now limiting you in the advancement you know you are ready for, like the son that needs to leave the protection from his house to leave his mark in the world.

Good luck!


TSchow's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

In a executive summary if you have already completed your technical, and interpersonal growth for the position and have not received a promotion, it is time to move on to another job with a promotion.

The group says to deliver superior results, and work on your network. Most of your network should be on the outside of your company.

From many of the positions I have held the fastest way to promotion is from the outside. I don’t know why currently in many companies they will not promote people from the inside. So you must work on jumping jobs from the outside. One of the ways I have stumbled on working on my network is by helping my wife in community relations activities. She manages a rock-climbing wall. I have helped by identify people who might want to climb and encourage them to rock climb. One of these people is a HR manager at a local company, and she was at least willing to consider me for a position. I have seen far to many people stay at no win situations only to passed over for promotion.

If you are that good, and it sound like you are I would start looking else where. May be its within the company? If that question comes up again I would say "I believe I am ready to progress for these reasons (followed by some reasons), and I want to move at a faster rate than what my current position offers me. That is why I am talking with you today.

TSchow's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge


Solitaire's picture

I wouldn't call myself an expert at interviewing, but have have interviewed others for a few roles at my present company and at previous companies. I have seen a very common reason for leaving by many recruits that they have reached the glass-ceiling and there are no current promotion opportunities at their current company and they want to develop and find new opportunities at a new company. Either the role they are applying for is a promotion, or the role is a side-step and the recruit is looking for a company with the structure for more opportunity than their current role or company can offer.

I am not sure if you have a similar structure at each site you work for, which should mean automatic promotion when you reach a certain level. If this is the case, then perhaps you can speak to whoever told you that you are unpromotable and find out why and what you can do specifically do to change that.

Good luck in your search!


Smacquarrie's picture


Here is the situation:
I interviewed for a supervisor position (one of the 3 supervisors I report to). I interviewed well, and was told as much by three different people who were involved. Once the decision was made, I was called into a meeting with the site supervisor. After explaining that I was not the final selection, he went on to ask some questions and make some recommendations to me. He explained that someone on the leadership team felt I had burned some bridges when I started with the company 10 years ago. As far as I know I am able to work with these individuals on a daily basis with no further issues (there is always a chance that if there are issues, I am not being made aware of them). The site supervisor went on to say that he knows I am applying internally, to the company not the site, and recommended that if I haven’t already; begin to look at external postings. He is willing to do anything he can, within company guidelines, to help me find other employment. Point is that as long as this person/people are in their position I have no chance of being elevated to management.
Last week he again called me into his office. He again asked me if I had found any internal postings that I was very interested in and asked if I had had anymore internal interviews.
My reviews are always very favorable, I am consistently rated a high 2 in a 9 block system. I am known as the go-to guy for quick turn or tricky situations. I have helped to develop several processes and even created a new role for myself within the organization. Unfortunately this position has put me in a very grey position so that many assume I am at a different level. Peers no longer think I am their peer and think I part of leadership while leadership is very clear in their understanding that I am NOT part of their group. This often leaves me on the fringe of what is happening and how others interact with me. I am looking at several outside postings, but am having trouble getting focused on networking and resume fine tuning.
Sorry, this is just a slight rant to help put my understanding of the situation into a coherent format others can understand.

svibanez's picture

It sounds like you have strong technical/professional skills and you consistently deliver good results, which make your resume strong. Your comment about having burned some bridges a long time ago struck a chord with me.  I've been that guy - the "go-to" guy, who routinely delivers when it hits the fan, but not concerned about the bodies I left in my wake.  After all, I consistently produced the desired results.

It took me a very long time to learn that wasn't the way to move ahead.  I had to learn to cultivate relationships along the way, which eventually made it easier to get the results the organization needed.  I've been able to repair many of the relationships I had previously sabotaged and have (slowly) changed my boss's view of me.  I finally got the promotion I was looking for after nine years of consistely outstanding performance (if you believe my performance reviews).  Some people have very long memories, and it takes a long time to prove you can change.

If you build strong relationships while continuing to deliver the goods, opportunities will find you. Remember Horstmans' first law: "It's all about people."


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