Avoid These 12 Job Promotion Mistakes if You Want to Get Ahead

You don’t want to sink your chances for a good promotion so make sure you avoid these mistakes.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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If you’ve been working in your position for a while and want to keep building wealth, it might be time to go after that promotion. But there are some things that are a sure way to tank it. 

So, before you prepare your speech or set an appointment to talk to your manager, here are a few things you’ll want to avoid in your attempt to get that new position.

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Not paying attention to the business

fizkes/Adobe woman employee having problem and doubts

Remember that you aren’t asking for a promotion in a bubble. There could be other forces outside of your job that could work against you and being aware of them could make a difference.

Be aware of economic conditions like the current state of your company’s financials, potential layoffs, preparing for a recession, or issues with the industry.

Asking for a promotion with no recognition of outside forces that could affect your request might show that you’re out of touch with the company and industry.

Skipping your accomplishments

Grady R/peopleimages.com/Adobe planning of people manager with graphs

Your company isn’t just going to give you a promotion because you asked or are due for one.

It’s important to have tangible accomplishments that you can present when you have a talk with your supervisors about a promotion.

If you’re worried you don’t have any or don’t have enough, it might be better to set some profession goals and try to reach them before asking for that step up.

Asking for too much

Reese/peopleimages.com/Adobe businessman talking to a candidate for the hiring

Set realistic goals and plans before you walk into that meeting with your boss or you may walk out disappointed.

You don’t want to go overboard with your supervisors, who may think you’re out of touch with what’s expected of you now and in a new position.

Your supervisors may take your request more seriously if you have a good idea of what can be expected.

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Try it

Waiting for your boss to come to you

S Fanti/peopleimages.com/Adobe meeting for corporate strategy

If you want to take the next step in your career, you probably have to ask for it. Don’t assume that they’ll be waiting to hand you a job if there’s an opening or invite you to get a promotion.

That may be the case in some instances, but it could be better for you to show you have the determination to step forward and ask for what you want.

Not updating your resume

Antonio Diaz/Adobe young man updating his curriculum vitae

You may think that you don’t need to update your resume because you’re not looking for a job somewhere else, but an updated resume is useful for a promotion as well.

Take a copy of your resume with you when you talk to your boss to help you organize your successes in your current position, such as meeting expectations or leading projects.

It’s also a good idea for your boss to see your previous positions and be reminded of your growth in your current spot.

Waiting until you get your review

insta_photos/Adobe  job interview

Your annual review with your company is a good time to touch base with your employer about your work over the past year.

But don’t wait for your review once a year. Schedule time to talk to your boss regularly so you can get caught up on what is expected of you and set new goals to move forward.

It will give you and your boss a good chance to be on the same page about your position as well as set expectations to help you get that promotion.

Trying to fix your problems with a promotion

Verin/Adobe young executive standing with arms crossed

You may have problems with co-workers or a particular position or maybe even your boss. But getting promoted to a different part of the company may not give you the fix you need.

It’s a good idea to take a close look at any issues you have and how they could be solved with a promotion. If you find a promotion won’t help you get out of a bad situation, perhaps you may need to make a bigger move.

Comparing yourself to others

antonioguillem/Adobe angry businesswomen looking with hate

You may sit at your desk wondering how someone else in your office got a promotion instead of you or why you’re better than your co-workers.

But the biggest competition you have for a promotion is yourself. So remember to stick with comparing yourself to yourself and find ways you can improve your own work to get that next job.

Picking the wrong place and time

fizkes/Adobe businesswomen stand in office hallway and talking

Want to talk about a promotion with your boss? There's a time and a place for that conversation.

Pick a time when it may not be as busy as the office. Taking time away to talk to your boss when the team is on a tight deadline or a busy part of the year may be a sign that you don’t understand the daily workflow of your office.

And it’s typically better to talk about a possible promotion in a professional setting and not while causally hanging out after work with co-workers.

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Thinking you should keep paying your dues

SOMKID/Adobe woman feeling sick at work

You’ve been working in this position for years or perhaps you’ve reached important milestones and goals set out by your boss. So you’re going to get rewarded soon, right?

Paying your dues should pay off at some point. It’s important to make sure you and your boss set your goals so you don’t feel like you’re running in circles without any rewards.

Backing off if your boss says no

fizkes/Adobe female colleagues discussing project

Just because your boss rejects your request for a promotion doesn’t mean you should give up and never bring the topic up again.

If you don’t get the promotion, you might want to ask your boss what you need to do it get that step up in your career.

Agree on goals that can set you up for success and set a specific time together to revisit the topic in the future. Your determination to stick to a plan can pay off later.

Just stick with it

Wayhome Studio/Adobe student prepares for test

You don’t have to stick with a bad situation just because you have a job. It’s okay to walk away if things aren’t working out and there isn’t an opening or opportunity for you to get promoted.

You may want to look at job listings for other positions in the area where you could actually make more money.

There’s nothing wrong with you applying to different jobs to make a move instead of waiting for the right time to get promoted with your current company.

Bottom line

Charlize D/peopleimages.com/Adobe financial advisor writing in notebook

Are you ready to get that promotion? Make sure you have a specific idea of what you want to ask and where you want to go in your career when you talk to your boss about moving up.

It’s also a good idea to sit down with your budget so you can decide how much you would like to ask for when you get promoted.

Setting a financial goal can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck and find a good way to move forward in your career.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.