10 Things Keeping You from Getting a Promotion

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You’ve been at your company for two years and still haven’t gotten a promotion. You complete every project on time, contribute to team meetings and receive positive feedback from your clients. But still, no raise. What’s the deal? Do you argue with your coworkers, show up late several times a week or check your phone during work hours? These little behaviors could be preventing you from moving up the corporate ladder. On the other hand, if you’re doing everything right but still not seeing any rewards, it might be time to look for a new job. Read on to learn 10 reasons why you haven’t been promoted.

1. You come in late and leave early 

Do you show up to work whenever you feel like it and leave early every day? Doing so can make it seem like you aren’t committed to your career (even if you get all your work done!) and that you’d rather be anywhere else but the office. Sure, getting in late can sometimes be out of you control; maybe you got stuck in traffic or had to take your dog to the vet. And there will be days where you'll have to leave early, perhaps for a doctor's appointment or to make it to the airport in time for your flight. But these things don't happen every day; so be sure to be in the office on time each morning, and avoid leaving early. Even if you finish your work early, you shouldn't be rushing out of the office—get a head start on the next day, or even offer to help out on a new project. Making a point to be on time or stay late to finish a project will show that you take your job seriously—and that you deserve a raise.

2. You frequently call in sick

We all get sick sometimes, but calling in at the last minute because of a headache or cramps might not look good. If you do need to call in sick, make sure you follow your company’s protocol and notify your boss as far in advance as possible. Using the “I’m sick” excuse too many times might raise suspicions. Your boss will start to wonder if you are actually sick or if you are just playing hooky. If you do have a medical condition that keeps you out of work many days at a time, make sure you talk with your boss in private and explain what is going on. This way, your absence won’t get in the way of new opportunities at work.

Related: 7 Ways to Get Ahead at Your First Job

3. You have a negative attitude

Nobody likes a Negative Nancy. Complaining about everything (even subjects that aren’t work-related!) won’t get you what you want, especially not a promotion. Instead of being in a bad mood all day and letting your emotions take over, leave your drama at the door each morning. Whether it’s work or your personal life that’s stressing you out, you have to learn to let it go. Being the office complainer won’t help you reach the top of the management chain, but having an upbeat attitude and positive mind could be beneficial. Need some tips on how to stay in a happy mood? Listen to an inspirational podcast on the way to work, start your day off with your favorite latte or join an exercise class so you have something fun to look forward to after work. Who knows, your boss just might reward you for your positive attitude. 

4. You leave everything to the last minute

You already know that meeting deadlines is essential in the workplace. Your coworkers and clients rely on you to get the job done on time. When you miss your deadlines, you let people down—and you miss your chances of moving up in your company. Not only is it important to meet those deadlines; it’s also vital to manage your time well leading up to the deadline. When you’re scrambling to finish a project (even if you end up getting it in on time!), or are turning everything in at the very last possible second every single time, it can seem like you’re not spending your time wisely. Learn how to prioritize and stay on top of your tasks so you can get everything in on time—and early, whenever possible. If you need a reminder, keep a calendar or list of tasks on your desk to keep track of all your due dates. Try an online tool like Asana or organization app such as PocketLife. Turning in projects in a timely manner is expected if you’re looking to take the next step at work. 

5. You don’t get along with your coworkers

Of course, you already know to be friendly to all your coworkers, to avoid gossip, and to work as a team. But personalities can clash, and if you’re the employee nobody likes, you probably won’t be promoted anytime soon. “Relationships with fellow coworkers are important,” says Mary, a recent grad who works for a catering company in Chicago. “You can do an awesome job, but if people don’t like you, you won’t have any support.” Having camaraderie in the office is a must; if you’re going to be leading the team, you need to be someone everybody enjoys working with. Plus, you want people on your side that will stand up for you when you’re in line for a promotion and help demonstrate your positive contributions to the company. When your coworkers give you praise for your hard work, your boss probably will too. 

6. You keep making the same mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes, but repeating the same ones—even just once!—will not look good during your next review. Ignoring your company’s policies, sending an incomplete document to a client, or speaking out of turn during a meeting will not help you become a boss in the near future. Next time you’re given constructive criticism or corrected for making a mistake, make sure you pay attention and avoid this error in the future. Showing your boss that you can take direction and listen to their feedback will pay off (hopefully with a bigger paycheck!).

7. You text / tweet on the job

Always on your phone at work? It’s time for a change. The group chats and social media updates can wait and life will go on even if you aren’t tweeting every moment of your day. Being glued to your phone might be a sign that you aren’t completely focused on your work; even if your boss is in an office on the other side of the building and isn’t there to see you texting your BFFs, other people in the office do, and their perception of you may reach your boss’s ears. So if you’re looking to advance your career, make sure you stay off your personal phone during work hours. Keep your cell out of sight in a purse or drawer so you don’t get distracted. 

8. You don’t dress professionally 

 We’re not saying you have to wear a suit to work every day, but we do think you should take pride in your appearance. Some offices are more relaxed when it comes to work attire, but even if you're always in a t-shirt and jeans, you should still look clean, well-groomed and overall professional. Dressing sloppy could show a lack of professionalism and prevent you from getting a more senior position. As they say, dress for the job you want!

9. Your company isn’t making money

Maybe it’s not you, it’s them. If your company isn’t profitable, you probably won’t be getting a raise anytime soon. Sit back and look at your work environment. Has anyone been promoted since you’ve been at the company? Is there a process for promotions? If not, this might not be the kind of company you want to work for. 

“There are many things—some within your control and some not—that could prevent you from getting promoted,” says Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, veteran publicist and co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work. “Circumstances and forces outside of your control include your corporate culture or policy (many have stringent timelines and parameters for promotions) or a challenging financial landscape or setbacks at your company (when bad times hit, many companies put freezes on reviews/promotions).” If there’s no room for growth in your current situation, it can be difficult to stay positive and motivated when you go to work each day. It isn’t all about the money, but you do deserve to be rewarded for your hard work.

10. You haven’t asked for one

Sometimes it isn’t your bad work ethic or negative attitude that is stopping you from getting a promotion. It could also be that you haven’t asked for one, and your boss has no idea you aren’t happy in your current position or that you’re ready to take on more. “If your boss doesn’t know you want a promotion, they have no reason to look at you,” says Karli, who recently started a new job at Northwestern University. If you think you deserve a more advanced role, you have to speak up, no matter how awkward it feels. Cooper agrees and says, “It’s important to communicate with your supervisor about your performance—and determine if you are meeting and exceeding expectations. If it is just a matter of not having asked before, be sure to come to that conversation prepared with concrete examples of the contributions you have made and an understanding of what that next position would require.” Being able to meet your company’s objectives and show results will increase your chances of moving ahead in your career.

Follow our advice and learn how to quit the negative work habits that might be preventing you from getting a promotion. You’re a smart, hard working graduette and you deserve it, so show your boss what you’ve got—and start seeing rewards!

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About The Author

Erica Avesian is a successful young professional in the marketing industry. In her current role, she plans and executes high-end events and marketing projects for a variety of luxury and automotive clients. Erica has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan with specializations in Communication Studies and Writing. She is an experienced writer who loves blogging about her personal experiences as a college girl and writing how-to guides for recent grads. When she's not writing, you can find her styling outfits for her best friends, traveling with her family, and hanging out at her happy place, Starbucks. Erica is obsessed with fashion magazines, Disney, and the color pink. In the future Erica would love to start her own online publication or be the next hit talk show host.