New Year, Old Job, New You

Question:

Several months ago, the career opportunity I’d been seeking for more than a year came open in our company. I’d been feeling stagnant in my present position. I immediately applied for this exciting new challenge.

I thought I’d be a shoo-in. I’ve worked for my employer for sixteen years in a variety of technical and administrative positions, moving laterally or upwards every two to three years. I’ve always received glowing performance reviews, and my skills completely matched the job requirements.

Then, nothing. No one contacted me acknowledging my application; however, I learned through the grapevine two other internal candidates also applied. Since neither of these two had any management experience, I felt I was the best candidate. I am also the oldest candidate.

I received an interview six weeks after submitting my application. After that, I learned HR was soliciting more internal and external candidates. I feel that I’ve received a loud and clear “not interested” message.

I need advice on how to proceed with grace, both in withdrawing my candidacy and in avoiding the bitter rejection I feel. I have moved from sad to mad, and neither of those states will serve me well because I lack a poker face.

Answer:

Avoid reacting

You’re wise to realize your emotions can undermine your ability to act in your best interest.

Before you withdraw your candidacy, consider what led to the lack of acknowledgement and delay you received.

Some employers make huge mistakes in how they treat internal candidates.

Is it possible you’ve taken your work for granted because you’ve felt stagnant and have slacked off? Or have you stopped growing professionally because you’ve waited for a career opportunity to open?

Does your organization want to keep you in your current position, one they’d have to backfill if they promote you?

Are you the victim of disguised age discrimination?

Withdrawing your candidacy

You can gracefully withdraw your candidacy with a visit to the head of the promotion selection committee and your HR officer. Simply say, “I have the sense you’re looking for a candidate you consider a better match for this position than I. I’d like to withdraw my application.”

Hold each of these meetings in person rather than by email so you can ask diplomatically phrased questions and read the other’s nonverbal responses, particularly if you suspect your age has impacted your chances for this promotion. Since you’ve withdrawn your candidacy, when you meet with your senior manager you can say, “since this promotion is no longer on the table, how do you perceive my career growth and future here?”

If your age has been a factor, you won’t be told directly, however, listen with total focus to what’s said and not said in response to your question. Also, ask follow-up questions. When someone covers up the real reason for a decision, their answers often sound flimsy, and they quickly run out of things to say.

You can make it clear you want additional challenges and that you’ll be a team player and support the candidate selected.

Handling rejection  

It’s a new year and you’re in an old job. Is it time to move on?

By acting in your own best interest, you apply healing to bitter rejection, replacing anger with a plan and sadness and disappointment with the potential for excitement.

You’ve been seeking an opportunity for more than a year and feel stagnant. Start with that reality. Remind yourself that despite your employer’s reaction to your candidacy, you’ve been successful in a variety of positions for sixteen years. You’re a catch.

Have you stopped looking outside your employer for your next career move? Perhaps losing this promotion is the wake-up call you needed to springboard your upward career movement – outside your current organization.

Here’s my Rx for you: New Year, old job, new you. Put together a plan for your next career chapter. Your employer didn’t act promptly and in your favor. But you can.

If you found this post valuable, you may find other useful career and workplace advice in Solutions, a collection of 65 of the absolute best articles published in two decades, https://amzn.to/3kQF7HR or in other posts in the career section of this blog, such as “Stay or Go? remain in a “good” job or look for a great one?” https://bit.ly/3q1oOeO.

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3 thoughts on “New Year, Old Job, New You

  1. I had the same problem with my employer and made the decision to stay where I was until something else came up. It really was hard to make that mental change in my attitude though. Remember what you like(d) about the job and learn everything you can from now on! Move on when you can but don’t be too quick to jump ship. A few years later, I was offered a great position in the company and retired from it. Sometimes things happen for the best after all. Stay positive!

  2. Your advice is well given. Not all of us are able to disguises our disgust and disappointment, however, so it may be quite a challenge to go in person to HR and tell them you think they’re probably looking for a different person and wish to withdraw. I hope the person in this case is able to do it. Also it can be revealing while tough to do a self-assessment and realize you’ve been slacking off and need to “up” your game. Then again, maybe they’re just taking you for granted or don’t want to have to find somebody to replace you. When can you retire? What can you do to make yourself more interesting and the job more interesting? Great ideas here.

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