BLUF: I'm almost 3 years out of Uni, and 18 months into my first ever role in this industry, and I'm 24 (just to give context of how junior I am). I'm an Executive* and I'd like to be promoted, but just as a position opened up that I could have (and feel I should have been) prepared for taking, they're hiring from outside the company to fill it.

My question: should I consider moving elsewhere, if my priority is to do more advanced-level work (and to get paid better!) within the next 3-6 months? Even if I get promoted, won't I just end up doing exactly what I do now, just with a new title? Won't there be too many cooks?

More detail:

A Senior Strategist left, leading to a reshuffle in the team. My original line-manager (a Senior Strategist) is now managing a different Strategist and his Executive; the Strategists she originally managed got promoted to Senior Strategist, and she's now my line-manager.... but I'm not being promoted to Strategist beneath her, I'm staying an Executive, while they bring in a new guy.

 Team structure, to be clear then, goes Executive (me) -> Strategist (what I want, but what they're hiring outside for) -> Senior Strategist (my line-manager)-> Head of the Team (Manager/Boss/Guy-who-controls-my-addiction-to-food-and-shelter)

My priority is to be doing more advanced-level work. Of course I want better pay and a nice title, but my biggest frustration is that I'm doing the same bitty stuff I did when I joined, and I want to be doing stuff that really stretches me.

I blame myself for not fighting harder to be given more responsibility, especially given that my manager... is.... a nice guy, but he's unreliable, and the kind of guy you've got to chase, and chase, and really keep reminding him about stuff. I'm young, y'know, and I'm learning a lot of lessons here about how careers progress, but yeah - I'm now in this position where my thinking is this:

Say they promoted me in the next few months (salary review is in July, and likely discussion about promotions and stuff too). That means there'll be the Head, two Senior Strategists, three Strategists, and one Executive. And so... what'll happen is yes, I'll get swallowed up the oesophagus, making it bulge out at the Strategist level, and all it'll mean is I gain a new title, and probably a bunch of new work, but... without a new Executive for me to palm the smaller stuff onto (and I highly doubt they're gonna hire the guy above me, promote me, do the July salary raises, *and then* hire a new guy as well), my fear is that nothing will really change - I'll simply have more work to do, without actually advancing from lower-tier work to higher-tier work.

I understand every promotion means taking on a bunch of new stuff it seems you'll never have time for. I just think, if it were a kitchen, you've got the potwash boy, then the vegetable chopper, then the guy preparing the soup, and up and up, and it seems to me like I'd end up trying to do the more complicated work of doing the soup, with no one handling the vegetable chopping or potwash, so I'm still gonna have to do all that myself.

I don't want to winge and say oh-me oh-my isn't it all unfair. I'm just wondering if my assessment of the situation is correct, and if any of you have faced anything like this early in your careers? Did you just buckle down and accept it? Or did you leave and work elsewhere? I'm particularly interested in what happened if you did jut buckle down?




*I think in America an Executive is a high up guy; at least here in England it just means the lowest of the low, the guy who finally "executes" what's set at the top level.


Kevin1's picture

Hi RD,

This may or may not be the case.  You sound very frustrated.  

The fundamental problem seems to be that you think you should have been promoted and yet your manager or managers thought you were not ready. The key question, therefore is - 'Why do they think you are not ready?'

Promotions come to those who

  1. Are performing to a high standard
  2. have shown capability at the higher level
  3. have developed relationships with those that make the decisions


Have you been kicking goals with respect to the goals and targets for your existing role? Have you been volunteering for and doing well with any wok above your existing grade?  Have you developed relationships and respect for the capabilities of those higher in your chain?

You appear to be approaching an annual review.  At either of the previous reviews, or at any time, have you let them know you are interested in being promoted and asked them what you needed to work on in order to be ready for consideration? And if you did, have you worked on those things?

Promotion is earned.  It is not a right based on tenure alone.

would love to know more before recommending any particular path.

kind regards



RDHodgson's picture


thanks, those are excellent points. 


As said, I do blame myself to a large extent. I've told my boss I want more responsibility time and again. In this team reshuffle we're changing who handles what clients, so my ability to quickly and ably take over these new accounts will be part of proving myself. But I blame myself for not saying more specifically: I want more work, as part of working towards a promotion. I only broached the topic of a promotion this Friday and he said we can talk on Monday about next steps. It's something I should have done a lot sooner though because, as said, I'm worried that even if I were to get promoted I wouldn't actually change roles - I'd effectively only have a change in title, unless they hire below me as well, to fill my current role.

I have always asked if there's more I can do, but there's never been anything to volunteer for. The best I've come up with is giving presentations on the good work our team does at company meetings (we're a little under-appreciated as a team).

I've developed relationships and respect; unfortunately, I have no real metrics I'm measured against except, "have you done all the work we set you correctly?" I understand your point about tenure, but in spite of my asking for more work and more opportunities I can do the higher level stuff, they keep me at this low level. Part of it, I have to admit, is I'm excellent at the more lateral thinking parts of my job, but I'm less than perfect at the pure data entry, details part of my job (ironic given I'm a high C!), and they want me to be perfect at that (which I can never be, frankly - details are not my strong suit)  before trusting me with anything higher level and less detail focused. 





"Now bring me DISC profile 6-1-4-7, your time is up and your feedback's begun!"

Doris_O's picture

If you are only working in this role for 18 months, then it may be too soon for you to be promoted.

My general rule of thumb for entry level positions (or first time positions) for very smart people is: the first year you learn the job, the second year you master the job, the third year you are ready to grow and if I don't give you more responsibility and/or promote you then I need to be prepared to lose you.

I see too many smart, talented, hardworking young people get promoted too soon. Long term it hurts them. However, if I don't or can't promote them when they are ready then it hurts me and my organization. Just keep in mind that when you want a promotion is not the same as when you are truly ready for one.

Try to look at the new outside hire as a positive: I have hired outside people when they had skill sets that my directs did not have; I wanted them to learn from the new person so that I could eventually promote them.

Try to be patient, continue to work hard and smart, and get great results. The promotion will come.

Doris_O's picture

Quick follow up after re-reading your last post: If you are not strong on details and data entry then that is something specific that you can work on the demonstrate measurable improvement. In order to be trusted with more responsibility, you will need to demonstrate proficiency with the responsibilities you already have. In this case the data entry and details.

Kevin1's picture

 Hi RD

Based on what you've told us, Doris may have this right and that your results aren't meeting expectations.  

However, not wanting to assume anything, you need to ask, and you need to listen to the response.  I recommend the following casts.

How to receive feedback (careful to listen to all of it, not just the start.)

Dealing with vague feedback
Annual review when looking for promotion
Getting ready for promotion series
Good luck.
kind regards



RDHodgson's picture

Hi Doris,

Thanks for your input. 

I'm afraid it may be as simple as that - they won't promote me till I've had that full 24 months to "master" the job (though, frankly, I don't think it's that complicated - I'm at this point where another 6 months of it seems pretty silly, but, then again, it's only 6 more months).

I'm trying to be patient. It's just frustrating to be stuck at the same level and pay as one of the new execs who needs me to hold his hand on everything, y'know? It's hard not to feel like I really deserve a promotion, if I'm at the point where I'm teaching others how to do the job. 


Just gonna try try to be patient. Hopefully I get a pay increase soon at least, coz london is awful expensive ;)





"Now bring me DISC profile 6-1-4-7, your time is up and your feedback's begun!"

flexiblefine's picture

There is a recent (and presumably ongoing) series of podcasts about working toward a promotion:

You may also be interested in these:

(That turned out to be more links than I expected. I'm not trying to beat you down with podcasts, I promise.)

As Doris suggested, you may be in an organization where promotion simply won't be considered until you're been in a given position for a certain amount of time. You've also suggested that you may not be great at the detail parts of the job that your superiors value -- that's something to work on, even if it's drudgery, because your value exists in their eyes. Your value to the organization is based on how you and your results are perceived, just like "communication is what the listener does."

Earlier in this thread you mention that your supervisor "said we can talk on Monday about next steps." How did that go? Did the discussion happen?

Being called on to train new people is a good thing -- it means someone thinks you know your current job pretty well. You know there is more to the next-level job, but what is that "more" and how much of it are you learning now? The best way to get a promotion is to demonstrate that you can do the next-level job, even if you're only where you are now.

Work with your Senior Strategist line manager to find out what you need to do to be seen as "ready for Strategist" in the eyes of the people who make that decision. Build relationships and impress people with your results, so someone will mention you when the next Strategist opening comes up.

Houston, Texas, USA
DiSC: 1476

teaguek122's picture

I think it is too soon for promotion based on the posts above.
I haven't seen anything mentioning the hiring practices of the current company.
Do they hire for senior level positions from within, or do they only hire from external sources?
You have to know how the company works throughout all levels, and it sounds like the current
company is rather large. 

Also, some companies do have a policy of hiring managers from outside of the company
who may have stellar resumes or career connections. You need to know what you can do,
and what is open to promotion. 

Good luck in your work dude!




RDHodgson's picture

Hi guys,

Thanks for your responses!

So, yeah, to fill you in on where I got to. So Team Lead / Manager sat down with me last week for our monthly 1-on-1 (they’re not necessarily MT 1-on-1s, but we sit and drink tea and talk about whatever I want to talk about, so I guess it’s close enough?) .

 So I told him about my frustrations, about how I want to get promoted but I feel like the road ahead is a bit closed off – maybe I can get a promotion, but if they’re hiring a new guy in, then it’s gonna be another year till I leave my current post (under the principle that you can’t go up until someone has been cleared out in front of you).


He explained what I need to do to get promoted (just keep my head down, focus on my work, make sure it’s perfect, make sure people see the work that I’m doing), and that we aren’t necessarily limited like I think – that the way the team is structured, there’s space for me to grow, and that he’ll find a way to accommodate my growing into a more senior role.

 One other interesting thing I learned: apparently, in this industry, you’re supposed to get hired as an assistant, then an executive (current role), then strategist (role I want). Instead I got hired one level up, so I’m actually kind of already promoted, if that makes sense? By the time I get promoted up, I’ll have been in this role nearly two years, but normally I would have been an assistant the first year, then promoted to executive the next. I suppose the other thing I should point out, is that I learned I basically got hired on an Assistant’s salary to do an Executive’s job….

 Anyway, things are sort of on track now. Just gonna follow that principle someone said earlier, that you spend your first year understanding the job and second year perfecting it. Salary adjustments are in a month, so that’ll be fun. And then the question of promotion will be in September – I’m gonna be up for evaluation then. My line-manager has said she’s gonna fight my corner, but I need to keep doing excellent, perfect work, so she can take that forward to my team lead.



"Now bring me DISC profile 6-1-4-7, your time is up and your feedback's begun!"

flexiblefine's picture

It sounds like you've gotten good direction from your manager, and he understands where you want to go. Keep up the good work!

Houston, Texas, USA
DiSC: 1476