I have applied to a Senior position within my company.

Unfortunately, I have been told that the HR department has stopped my application as it would be considered as a promotion.

When I tried to push for a senior title my manager said that the title is not relevant for career progression. However, the company will be hiring an external senior in my team, meaning that I will be facing more internal competition in my future career.

I am not quite sure on how to negotiate this and to push for a promotion to "Senior" successfully.

Any advice?

  • 3
    Just out of curiosity: what is the middle step between normal and senior in your company?
    – nvoigt
    Sep 30, 2016 at 9:02
  • @dadama is your normal Position similar to a Junior Position? Sep 30, 2016 at 9:29
  • Its a different title. The junior position is a lower grade than my current title.
    – dadama
    Sep 30, 2016 at 10:22
  • 6
    Your company has just demonstrated that they care more about policy and procedure than the quality of an employee. If the only reason they are holding you back is procedural, you need to move on because as sure as I am writing this, there will be more problems in the future. You are not a person to them. Sep 30, 2016 at 17:25
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere It's harsh if they are holding employees back for procedural reasons rather than merit Sep 30, 2016 at 17:26

4 Answers 4


However he/she seemed incline towards the "middle" promotion rather than the "senior role" (due to HR policy he/she says).

It's less work for your manager to do that. He/she would have to put their neck out for you to get you skipped upwards and is reluctant to do so.

Depending how much I wanted the job I would ask for a promotion to the next step, or insist to the manager that I want the senior job and give my reasons why I would fit the bill for it. The implication of course is that I'd possibly start job hunting if I wasn't given the opportunity. This can work if you are recognised as a key person by your manager.

Unfortunately if your manager isn't willing or able to push that through for you you face the prospect of actually finding another job. In my own case it's worked out about half and half. Smaller companies have given me what I wanted. Bigger ones haven't, much to their own loss, to the point where one company lost half of their major clients. But the manager had no power with HR, who basically didn't care and the managers division collapsed around him. However I'm in a country where human resources with my skillset are almost non existent.


You are absolutely right that your position in a hierarchical company will disadvantage you. Your 'normal' position is disadvantaging you right now!

If you think you are qualified for a senior position, then you should be applying for a senior position. If your company is not allowing you to apply for a senior position, then you should be applying for a senior position at another company. If no other company will hire you for a senior position, then you should be shooting for a middle position, at your company or elsewhere.

If your field of specialization is in high demand, then it may be that someone else in your area will hire you into a senior position. Spurning your own company's offer for a middle promotion obviously comes with risks. You will have to weigh the likelihood of getting a senior job elsewhere versus the risks of spurning your company's middle offer.

I can't accurately make that judgment since I am not in your position. My personality is not to invest in a lost cause. I am also in a high demand field; if my current company was obviously not going to promote me as fast as I wanted, I would start looking for new employment, with no intention of using it as leverage. If you are truly valuable to your company, they will take notice.


In larger companies, promotions and role changes are often entirely separate things, and it's not possible to do a "diagonal transfer" that involves getting a promotion and moving to a new role at the same time. Open roles, even internally, have fixed level requirements and a Level 2 Widget Fiddler is not going to be eligible for a Level 3-4 Discombobulator role unless they get a promotion to Level 3 in their current role first.

Whether this is fair or sensible is another question, but the general thinking is that by being promoted to a level of responsibility in one role, they've demonstrated that they have the soft skills (leadership etc) needed for the same level in other roles as well. This is particularly the case for more senior management positions, where soft skills are often paramount.

Short of quitting for a less rigid company, it's unlikely you can do anything about this in the short term. In the medium to long term, you should be working with your manager on promotions that will enable these career opportunities.

Also, large companies anchor their salaries on what other companies are paying. (And yes, this is recursive.) If the market average salary for Fiddlers is higher than Discombobulators, a Level 2 Junior Fiddler may well earn more than the Level 4 Senior Discombobulator.


Some companies have very rigid promotion programs where titles DO matter as you have indicated.

You have a couple of options here.

  1. Ride it out as the middle employee. This means being a jr. to the new Sr. and you will NOT be given an option to apply to be the manager while in this role. Deciding this choice depends a lot on your current situation within the company, salary, benefits etc.

  2. Move on. The easiest way to get a title promotion is to get it somewhere else. Use your experience level to apply to a Senior position somewhere else. Obviously the grass may not be greener on that side of the fence, but it's the option I most often see.

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