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I have worked for the last 10 years in a very large organisation as a software developer. I work on a complete bespoke payment solution that processes about 1 million dollars in new payments each day. I am the only developer who knows the insides of the application and the only developer who makes any code changes. I am involved in all the tasks within this app from writing stored procs, any coding in C#, making designing and implementing APIs, business analysis with the team that uses the app, unit testing, database design, to arranging and performing the deployment. It is quite a stressful position because if this app was to crash I fear it would make it in the news, due to the large payments the system makes.

My last promotion was more than 7 years ago. Every 6 months we have compulsory performance reviews, and at every performance review, I say I haven't received a promotion and want a promotion. My manager at the time says something similar to "yes, we value you in our team! We have a place for a promotion in the future for you". However, the problem is my boss then quits and I get a new boss.

I have had about 7 different bosses tell me something similar to "yes a promotion is on the horizon", for my boss to then resign and disappear. I feel like I am stuck in a movie because although it is a different boss, they almost repeat the exact pattern.

Late last year, a new position within the organisation was finally advertised on Seek.com.au for a Database Architect position currently advertised paying more than double my salary, I applied for the position thinking I would be a good fit as I do a lot of database design for the business area I am in, and have experience in the complicated subsidy calculation and payment rules etc, and would be perfect for the role. I spent about 4 hours after work every night and most of the weekend studying for the interview, brushing up on database architect knowledge. There were 5 people on the interview panel. Two months later I received a meeting with one of the people on the interview panel, and he mentioned I didn't get the job and said no candidates who applied got the job.

A month later, a new position within the organisation was advertised on Seek.com.au for a Technical Lead position. I have always been the tech lead essentially for this critical finance bespoke software, and I am also happy to learn leadership especially for a tech lead position. So I apply, a month later I get an email "this vacancy no longer exists and has therefore been withdrawn". I follow up, and yet again nobody got the role of Technical Lead position. Nobody was recruited.

Two months ago, a new position within the organisation was advertised on Seek.com.au for a DevOps Engineer position. I use Azure DevOps, know how to build pipelines, create documentation, and automated tests etc, so I applied for the role thinking maybe I can at least get this position. I spend about 30 hours on the weekends reading DevOps books and videos and preparing myself for the interview. I have an interview, on the panel is my current line manager, my current line manager's boss, and someone from the business; no one on the panel can write any code and the role is for a DevOps Engineer position. Anyway, a month passes and I find out, I didn't get the job, surprised, I asked how come? And my line managers' boss on Teams says "we couldn't find anyone with the right fit". Nobody got the job. And I have still not been promoted for 7 years.

So last month, a new position within the organisation was advertised on Seek.com.au for a "Digital Solutions Officer", which in my understanding of the role (because I knew the guy who left) was pretty much making HTML web apps based on the needs of different teams within the organisation, so basically like BA + Dev skillset, who can make small CRUD apps. So I apply because hey I can definitely code and I can definitely do BA, and the role is advertised for a lot more than my current pay, I am excited and have the interview, I thought it went well. Today I received a call stating that "Unfortunately, you didn't get the position, and that nobody was awarded the position as we had no preferred candidates for the role".

Each time I have applied for these positions, getting excited and my hopes up for finally a chance for a promotion, spending hours crafting a custom cover letter, and studying for the interview, and dressing up, getting my suit cleaned, getting a haircut. Only to be told, that not only did I not win the position but nobody won the position; has made me felt like shit, worthless and sad. I feel so disheartened and even humiliated.

My employer advertises job positions, creates interviews and then rejects all the candidates

What do I do? Where do I go from here?

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    I don't inderstand... Why don't you apply elsewhere? In another company. You're clearly not valued. And 7 years without a promotion???
    – Doliprane
    Jul 30, 2021 at 13:52
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    Where do you go from here? Elsewhere. Jul 30, 2021 at 14:08
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    You should have switched jobs 4 years ago. Jul 30, 2021 at 14:13
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    @Mookuh: I think after 7 years, no matter how much proof they provide of that upcoming promotion, you simply don't accept it. It's either give me it now, or I am off.
    – musefan
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:05
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    @ConfusedAtMyWork sorry but you have to. The good thing is that people like you will easily find a job. You've been loyal to your company for 10 years, so not a job hopper (more like the opposite), and you have 10 years of experience. They'll automatically you a better pay. People normally change jobs every 2/3 years cause it's the only way to get an actual raise. Don't worry, you're an actual rare item in the eyes of the other companies. Just change your linkedin profile to "available" and you'll see them sworming to get an interview with you.
    – Doliprane
    Jul 30, 2021 at 17:43

3 Answers 3

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So here's what's going on.

First, you're critical to the company. They have to know that. If they lose you, they make the news in a bad way. They can't afford to hire you into any other position because they can't afford to have you leave the position you're in. At the same time, they don't want to upset you by having you compete for a position and then hiring someone else who's clearly less qualified, which means that when you apply for an internal position, the safe move on their part is to close the thing up and give no one the slot.

Second, by now you're quite underpaid, and have shown a willingness to just accept that with minimal complaint. They're going to try to keep that going for as long as they can. They want you right where you are, doing the thing you're doing, for exactly the same pay, forever, and they'll make adjustments as necessary to keep you there... like promising that no, really, a promotion is just around the corner... while never, ever promoting you (because promotion would mean that they had no one to maintain the critical thing).

Your current company is never going to voluntarily allow you out of the position you currently hold. They've backed themselves into a corner where having you right where you are is ideal, and they have no way to compensate if you leave, so they're never going to voluntarily allow you to leave. If you want to be doing anything else, it's going to need to be at a different company. You need to start applying to jobs at other companies.

Incidentally, you are in an excellent position for a power play at your current company, if you want, because they need you (and they know it, though they aren't admitting it), and you don't need them. If you'd be happy with "my current job, but more money" and you're willing to wade through some emotional abuse to make that happen, you can play hardball, and they're near-guaranteed to fold. I wouldn't suggest that, though. Leadership types are very good at the sort of emotional combat that that sort of thing causes, and it gets reall very unpleasant.

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What do I do? Where do I go from here?

It's time to move on from this company.

You have been at this for 7 years now, that is a very long time and the company has had ample opportunity to demonstrate that they value their employees. Clearly they do not, and your previous 7 managers can probably attest to this as well.

Work on your resume and start applying to new companies. Don't be scared that this is the only full time job you have had. You have been at the company for 10 years and should have accumulated a wealth of experience to provide to other potential employers. Move on from this company, there is no indication that things will ever improve.

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    In addition to this, it sounds like the OP is currently vastly underpaid. So avoid telling potential employers what you currently earn. Decide what you are worth and ask for that when you interview. If they ask about your current salary, just tell them it's a bit less than what you are currently asking for. Otherwise you risk getting underpaid at your new place too!
    – musefan
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:02
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    Plot twist: they find a job posting from another company, only for it to turn out to be a front company set up by their old company just to screw with them. Jul 30, 2021 at 23:00
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7 years, wow

I salute your devotion

Not sure about your location, i gather Australia from the job website name.

As IT / Dev specialists we are fluent bunch, and the saying is - "best raise you get from switching jobs" :)

Depending on your formal education and credentials, in addition to vast experience you accrued, I think your skill set can be more appreciated at the different company.

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