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My previous line manager was always enthusiastic about my contributions to our workplace. Privately, he told me in review meetings that the next time a suitable promotion came up it was essentially mine for the taking if I wanted it. Since he would have been the hiring manager he was clearly in a position to make good on that promise.

He left the company about a month ago under something of a cloud. The details are a bit hazy but while he wasn't sacked, as such, it seems he was strongly encouraged to leave. My personal suspicion is that he'd been critical one too many times of a new senior management team.

Now, a promotion has come up and I'm going to apply for it. There is no replacement for my previous manager in post yet, so I'm not sure who will be handling the application although I will of course find out. Clearly, unlucky as it is, I don't expect to be handed it in these circumstances as a different person will now be reviewing my CV and will have to go through a full formal application and interview process.

However, I've also been asked to supply a covering letter, and I'm not sure whether or not I should mention the fact that my previous manager had me earmarked for this post. The hope is that it might boost my application. However, the concern, of course, is that it sounds arrogant, involves a manager who left under less than ideal circumstances and - for all the reader knows - could be a lie.

Should I include it in my covering letter? Or mention it in an interview should I get one?

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  • Did you get anything in writing from your former manager about your "promised" promotion? Jun 20 at 19:34
  • @PhilipKendall Sadly not, no. It was verbal only.
    – Bob Tway
    Jun 20 at 19:40
  • 3
    Many other people have learnt this lesson the hard way as well, I'm afraid. Jun 20 at 20:01

2 Answers 2

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Should I include it in my covering letter? Or mention it in an interview should I get one?

No, this is not worth mentioning. As you stated, the manager left "under something of a cloud". which means that you really don't know why he left. If it is for negative reasons, then his promise would likely be less than meaningless. In fact, bringing up this manager could have a negative impact on not only the interview/hiring process, but your overall standing at the company if it is the case that he left for negative reasons. Furthermore, unless he put any of his thoughts or promises in writing, this is nothing more than hearsay.

Stick to selling yourself based on your knowledge and experience as you would in any other job opportunity and leave the possibly tainted former manager out of it.

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  • Even a larger reason is that unless the manager, documented their thoughts, it would be a matter of hearsay. I would agree the author should likely distance themselves from this manager since they are not privy to the reasons they left.
    – Donald
    Jun 21 at 14:07
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Should I mention that a previous manager promised me a promotion when applying for it?

This seems fine, but only with appropriate expectations on your part, namely: you are effectively "starting over" to build your reputation, credibility, etc. with new manager.

Also, the new manager will (like any manager) have their own requirements for promotion, even if the company has explicit promotion criteria for that role. A manager can find ways of stalling or preventing your promotion if they don't want you to get promoted – they shouldn't, but they can, and certainly some managers do. In the end, to get a promotion, you need to fulfill any standard company criteria, as well as get the support of the manager.

So, sure, mention your prior efforts, share evidence/proof of your prior wins and accomplishments, but I would encourage you to keep perspective that the new manager might not value those accomplishments the same way. Old manager might love that you did X, while maybe new manager isn't impressed.

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