I'm 32 and I've been working as the Commercial Co-ordinator at a heavy haulage and logistics company for 8 years. Being completely honest, until I was 27 I treated work as something that was just to pay the bills, often made mistakes and didn't take it seriously, but then about 5 years, when the old Managing Director left and the office environment improved a lot, I decided to knuckle down, save money for a house and become an adult. It went well, and I got substantial pay rises and great reviews every year for the last 3 years.

Business was picking up so much 3 years ago that I couldn't handle the volume of enquiries, and it was decided that somebody would be hired at the same level to assist me, and I would train him up. He's 24 now, so he was 21 when he first started. He's a good guy and picks up new things easily, but last year he decided he wanted more money and responsibility, the company wouldn't give it to him, and he handed his notice in. Just as he was about to leave our Managing Director went to a competitor, so to avoid the problem of losing so many staff in one go they gave him a pay rise and allowed him to become more focused on business development and visiting customers, so he agreed to stay. At the same time the old Commercial Manager (who at that point was responsible for doing all of the customer visits) became the new Office Manager (the role of Managing Director being scrapped after the MD left and the company's shares were centralised through our head office).

I noticed a few months ago that the younger guy who I trained up was becoming increasingly forthright in his views and explaining the way that he felt things should be done. We didn't always agree, but it was never unfriendly. He was also taking on a lot more responsibilities which the new Office Manager had been doing.

I had my monthly one-to-one with the Office Manager after some gossip in the office got back to me about how it was clear that he was being trained up to be the new Commercial Manager. I explained how in my annual one-to-one a couple of years before that I had been told by the managers at the time that I was clearly the senior person with most of the knowledge in the Commercial Department, and to carry on doing what I was doing and within a couple of years I would have a senior role, and that I would also be going out to deal with more customers face-to-face, especially with regard to projects. He wasn't aware of this, but again said just to carry on what I was doing and think about how I wanted to sell myself in the annual one-to-one with the Managing Director from head office.

I went through everything I wanted to say: I speak 5 languages, have brought in the most work, including some huge projects for the company; I help everyone in the office whenever they can't understand something (language- or procedure-related), I've trained two people up and the department has expanded massively, and that I feel we work really well as a team. Sadly, I was then shot down and told that they'd decided that James, as the person who visits customers, should have the management title as it's better for the customer to believe the person who is coming in to visit them is high-ranking, and the structure of the company is to give the title Commercial Manager to whoever is basically the rep / business development guy. My suggestion was that I become Commercial Manager, the younger guy becomes Sales Manager or Sales Representative, and everybody is happy. They decided that this idea was not for them.

So to the crux: I feel like I've been strung along and promised things which have now been given to somebody else, who is much younger than me and who I trained, and who in a lot of respects I see as being junior to me. I'm struggling to remain objective, but I'm just about managing it. I find it very galling, though, that I've been there 8 years and the main reason I've stayed for the past 2 years was that I felt like I was working towards something and achieving something, and really going places, and now it just feels like I've wasted those 2 years and should have gone somewhere else, or moved somewhere further afield or prosperous and with more opportunities. It's also annoying that the younger guy resigned for more money and responsibilities last year, which I would imagine to show a lack of company loyalty to the Managing Director, but he's got the promotion, whereas I've never resigned or threatened to resign and I got passed over.

I'm thinking my last ditch effort might be to politely mention my frustrations after everything which I felt that I was promised, and to ask for clear reasons why I wasn't chosen for the promotion, along with clear instructions of what I need to do to be at least at the same level as my former peer, and a clear timeline of when this will be happening if I do everything which they ask of me. Then, if they won't give me any guarantees or if I feel like they're stringing me along, to hit the job market hard and to find something suitable. Is this a good idea? I don't want to spend another 8 years with the same job title as I had when I was 24, sat behind a desk everyday and going through the same motions. Have I already been too soft and not been aggressive enough with regard to demanding what I want? From everything I've seen, it appears that these guys are the only ones who get anywhere, and that loyalty does not really amount to much. Basically does it sound like I'm at the point where I either need to leave or become a bitter and jaded employee who doesn't go anywhere within the company?

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    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Jan 7, 2017 at 7:12
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    Company loyalty, in the sense of staying in the job out of a sense of loyalty, is not a great plan. The company itself has no loyalty to you as an individual (though your managers might have personal feelings). I suspect you have already stayed too long and your career trajectory has suffered because of it. Line up some job offers before doing anything visible to your employer. Jan 7, 2017 at 9:46
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    It comes down to office politics. Make yourself known and seen. It is as important if not more than your key skills, I learnt that too.
    – darwin
    Jan 10, 2017 at 14:00
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    Your respective ages is irrelevant. I suggest you remove it from this post and from your mind. Also this reads more like a rant than a question about navigating the workplace that can be given an objective answer. Dec 22, 2017 at 4:30

7 Answers 7


When you wrote,

I noticed a few months ago that the younger guy who I trained up was becoming increasingly forthright in his views and explaining the way that he felt things should be done.


He was also taking on a lot more responsibilities which the new Office Manager had been doing.

you're describing qualities that you don't attribute to yourself; which may explain why he's being given a promotion and you have not. Even if you feel you exhibit such qualities, apparently, it's not to such a significant degree that it has been noticed.

Your last paragraph sounds like someone who feels entitled to something due to seniority. Things don't work like that in business (unless one is in a Union). Do not assume you have the upper hand and can dictate or demand anything.

Your passivity and apparent lack of ambition for 8 years may have created a stereotype of who you are in the eyes of your superiors at that company. You might be better off looking for another job at another company; especially since 8 years at one job looks bad on a resume.

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    I agree that it's probably best to look for somewhere where I can have a fresh start and work more like I have over the last four or five years without having any previous reputation to worry about or concern me. I do feel like I'd been asking for those responsibilities and taking them on for the past 2 years, and I wasn't unambitious for 8 years - I'd say the first 4 years, but for the last 4 years I've been doing everything I can to show I want to move forward and I've done everything that the managers have asked of me
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:21
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    The most galling thing is that I've tried to be a model employee for 4 years and the person who hands in their notice is the person who gets most of the rewards. Also, I'd always assumed that eight years in a job would look quite good, and show some stability? I'd imagine it would look worse on a CV if someone only spends 2 or 3 months in a job before moving on to the next one?
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:21
  • I understand (re: 1st pt.). I, too, was the same way. I've since learned my job duties are the minimum to keep my job; behaving like I have an ownership stake in the Co. is how I always rise within the Co. Yes, stability is important but don't compare 8 yrs to 2 or 3 mos.; that's a biased comparison. 4-6 yrs. is the U.S. mean for rising in a career. A CV is primarily for one with published works and keynote speaking exp. (in U.S.). You should be appreciated for being a model employee. Just know that doesn't entitle one to a promotion (just a raise). Jan 7, 2017 at 14:54
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    Good answer I agree with but I've been puzzled by the statement '8 years in a job looks bad on a resume': is it backed by some external source or is a personal opinion/experience?
    – Paolo
    Jan 7, 2017 at 17:18
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    @JamesOlson I have spent most of the last four years going above and beyond my duties and trying to impress, and help people out where I can. I just feel like it's been time wasted, and if I'd known when I was first promised the promotion that it was going to turn out like this, I'd probably have looked for another job where I could make a fresh start, but the manager at the time convinced me that I had a bright future at the company. I have had previous 'bad' history with the new manager in my younger days, but for the last few years we've got along and he was pleased with my support
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 17:36

So, your idea is:

  1. Get into a confrontation.

  2. Hit the job market hard.

Okay, you can get into a confrontation since you essentially get to choose the time and place of the confrontation. As for what the outcome of that confrontation is - probably not in your favor. They already promoted who they wanted to promote and at this point, all you'll be doing is barking up an empty tree. You're a spare tire at this point, and they can probably afford to go without a spare tire if push comes to shove.

So after this losing confrontation, you plan to hit the job market hard? It doesn't matter how hard you hit the job market if employers are not hiring and you don't know whether employers are hiring because you never applied for interviews. Threats to leave are empty if you can't back them up with anything real. Like a job offer.

Because you put the cart before the horse, they will know or have a pretty good idea that you are looking. And there are going to be tensions between you and them because you confronted them. Whether they give you a reference is anyone's guess. And until you get that job offer, you are going to have to report to work every day. And until you get that job offer, they know that you have nothing lined up.

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    I think there's been a misreading of my comments above. I wouldn't really say a confrontation - I'd rather say a calm conversation about all the contributions which I've brought to the company, and the promises which I've been made by the company and which I feel, based on those previous conversations and promises which I've had with managers previously, that I've been working towards. Then, if this doesn't work, applying for other jobs - but again I wouldn't be telling anyone that I was applying for other jobs, because then they would have grounds to dismiss me
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:04

First of all, you have had a major disappointment, and need to take time to mourn and adjust. Do nothing, not even the sort of discussion you mention in your question, until you can think objectively about your career.

You do need to understand that promotions to management positions have nothing to do with what people deserve, what managers were thinking two years ago, who trained who, or who has been with the company longest. Promotions are only about what the managers think will make things work best in the future for the company and its management. In any case, the decision has been made, and is not going to change.

When you can put the past behind you, you should try to objectively analyze the company and your prospects in it. You have to decide whether or not to look for another job. If you decide to look for a management job, it may be worth doing some studying on-line or at a local college first.

If you decide to look, write down all your accomplishments during the last few years, and pick the most impressive ones to go in your resume. People often grow in skills and responsibility in the same nominal job. You need your resume to demonstrate that sort of growth. Even though the dates will show the full time with the company, prospective employers will care most about what you have done recently.

"I am ready for a management job and there are no suitable openings where I am currently working." is a perfectly good reason to be job hunting.


The solution is very, very simple - find another employer.

You've already given your "sales" pitch, offered alternative options that would satisfy everyone, and they weren't interested. They heard you, they said "no." Expressing that you don't agree is not new information, and it will be taken as disgruntled complaining. Maybe it is very appropriate to feel disgruntled, and maybe they have made a short-sighted, unfair decision, but the complaining won't alter their views on it.

It will only make your own situation and their view of you worse than it is now, which means your situation would not improve and you'd probably be looking anyway, if they aren't trying to actually move you along.

They'd probably be fine with you staying on, happily or quietly doing what you've been doing, but you want more than that. You'll need to get it elsewhere. From how you've described your accomplishments, I wouldn't think it would be a tough sell to another employer.

If you want to let them know how unhappy you are, leaving should send the message, and if you want to share the details, you can share that in your exit interview.


You have to ask for a promotion if you're not getting it. That is the conversation you should have been having with your boss all along. Be prepared with reasons for a promotion. Hopefully, you offer more to the company than just having stuck around long enough.

Start looking for another job anyway. This is something else you should have been doing all along. You'll get more of a sense what you're worth. Interviewing and keeping your resume up to date are good skills to maintain whether you get a promotion or another job outside the company.

If your company is willing to promote people who put in their notice, it's a sign you need to be more aggressive or this company just doesn't know what they're doing.

  • Thanks Jeff. I had been led to believe by the previous Managing Director that this is what I had been working towards, and we had several conversations about what I needed to be improving or maintaining to get the position, all of which I have done. The new Office Manager was also aware of the situation as I flagged it up as a concern a few months ago, so those conversations have been had. I bring in the most amount of business in the office, and we deal with a lot of international clients and I'm the only person in the office with the language skills to deal with them
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:07
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    I think part of the reason is the younger guy who got promoted spends a lot of time with the new Office Manager trying to make himself look indispensable. I hate using the phrase 'brown-nosing' but, as much as I like the kid, I think it partly comes down to that
    – user62570
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:09

Just as he was about to leave our Managing Director went to a competitor, so to avoid the problem of losing so many staff in one go they gave him a pay rise and ...

  • Check the job market and assess other company's interest in you prior to speaking up too loudly, unless you can afford to quit first and look for work later (taking what you get, possibly temporarily).

  • Follow the other's lead if that's the only technique that works on the owner (they only speak one language).

  • After the part where you wrote: "... a pay rise and ..." ...

    No "and", just the money; the only 'and' is that the tail doesn't wag the dog; promotion or not you are senior, or sayōnara.

I've been strung along and promised things which have now been given to somebody else, who is much younger than me and who I trained, and who in a lot of respects I see as being junior to me.

A good magician doesn't tell his secrets.

You've been feeding him "I know about this and I know about that", the opposite of brown nosing, and he's been eating it up.

You've not just shown him the ropes but gift wrapped them too, now you're getting hung with them.

You may well have been strung along but you've strung yourself up; or allowed the new guy to learn how to do it.

What if all he could do was brown nose the owner, rub his feet and fetch coffee - would he have still received the promotion or would it have gone to you.

Eight or more years to be at one place is OK but only if you continue advancing somehow: great raises, great promotions, or part of your easiest duties outsourced (less work, but you're still indispensable).

If you're not gaining knowledge, money, or less annoying tasks it's time to start looking around; in your case, years ago.

Get your ducks in a row first, before you start firing off.

If leaving needs to be a "two year plan" so be it, that's what they call being stuck there; and in that time there might be the improvement you seek (or adequate compensation) - if not you'll be ready to roll (and it will be their loss, not so much yours).


Ask your manager what the company needs to see from you over the next year to justify a promotion. Then make sure you deliver that, without letting other obligations lapse.

(I admit I didn't read the body of the question. But really, this is the only answer for the subject line. Details need to be worked out between you and manglement, but it really is this easy, and this hard.)

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    Looks like an answer to me, what am I missing? Question is how to respond to being passed over for promotion, answer given is to respond by establishing with employer what would be necessary to get a future promotion and then do that. Not saying it's excessively a good answer, or what I would suggest to the OP, but it certainly does appear to be an attempt to answer the question.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 7, 2017 at 10:34
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    In most positions that I have held, I have deserved promotion several times over, I just didn't get promoted. Meeting the criteria for being promoted makes me promotable. Being promotable does not constitute a guarantee of promotion. No guarantee of promotion exists, except perhaps in my mind if it were fevered enough :) Anyone who whines that they should get the promotion they deserve lives in a fantasy world where life is fair, promotions are a reward for past performance, etc. They are delusional. The real world is unpredictable and much more exciting. I live in the real world Jan 7, 2017 at 11:26
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    I'll note that the OP does not have the sales experience that the person who was promoted has. Apparently, the OP did not even meet all the criteria for promotion and tried to make an end run around those criteria. Tough luck. Jan 7, 2017 at 11:27
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    People sometimes get what they deserve. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. People have been known to scream because they got what they deserved :) Having said that, the logic of saying "I met all the conditions for being promoted makes me entitled to the promotion. I deserve the promotion because I am entitled to it. And I MUST be promoted being I deserve it" - that's kind of fallacious. Meeting all the criteria for promotion means that you are part of a pool of promotable candidates. Who gets promoted is at the discretion of management. If I get beaten to it by someone's in-law, that's life. Jan 7, 2017 at 11:38
  • @VietnhiPhuvan - What is the point in bringing up all the factors that are out of anyone's control? You can only put yourself in a position to get promoted. I don't see anything in this answer that assumes promotions are guaranteed or there's any sense of entitlement to a promotion.
    – user8365
    Jan 7, 2017 at 12:16

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