The LLoyd blog: hidden talent.

Navigating Career Bumps

By Nancy Schuman, CSP

Imagine your career as a road trip, one full of unexpected twists and turns – referrals you didn’t expect, a call from a recruiter that pumps you up, or you’re given the chance to take the lead on a project.  All good, you’re on the fast track, right?

But like any road trip – detours happen.  You learn you got passed over for a promotion.
Suddenly you are taking the scenic route when you were getting ready to hop on the expressway. So, how do you get back on course when your career GPS throws you a curve?

  1. Restraint and Intel Gathering:

Getting passed over stings, no doubt. But before you vent, take a breath. Find out if the company went with an internal or external candidate.  Research shows that 70% of promotions actually go to external hires rather than internal employees.

  1. Real Talk with Yourself:

Okay, let’s be real. Did you really want that job, or are you just feeling a bit left out? Reflect on your qualifications. Are you as qualified as the person who got the spot? It’s a bit like assessing if your car is up for the mountain roads or if you need a tune-up.

  1. Private Conversation with the Boss:

Have a private chat with your boss – no blame games. Ask for the lowdown on why you didn’t get the promotion and what could have helped. It’s like asking for directions. You might not like what you hear, but it’s better than being lost. You can say something like,

“Hey [Boss’s Name], I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you one-on-one. I was hoping for some feedback on the recent promotion decision. What could I have done differently, and what skills should I focus on to improve my chances in the future?”  Don’t attack, don’t disagree, just listen.

4. Areas for Improvement Pit-Stop:

Just like checking your car for any issues, figure out what went wrong. Was it a lack of specific skills, or did you not play well with others? Knowing the problem helps you fix it. Are you reliable, but not a proactive 9-to-5’er? Were you a participant or a watcher? How are your skills?  Would a class make you more current in the marketplace?  How do you fit in with the organization’s culture?

5. Hit the Gas on Improvement:

Once you know what needs fixing, take action. It’s like filling up your gas tank before a long stretch. Acquire new skills, show off your strengths, and be more visible in the workplace. Sometimes, it’s about putting your foot on the pedal and showing them what you’re made of.  Watch for little details like your body language, how you appear on Zoom calls and your overall visibility – do you retreat too often to your cubicle?


6. Alternative Routes:

In any road trip, having various routes to your destination is key. Be ready to take alternative roads if they promise a benefit. Flexibility is your best GPS when navigating a career detour.

7. End the Trip

Not every road trip is a good one.  We all know sometimes it’s just time to go home. Think about what you want to do next. It’s like planned exploring – you need to know where you are before figuring out where to go next.


Remember, detours happen to everyone. It’s not about the road you didn’t take, but the adventures waiting on the one ahead. Stay flexible, and you might discover a whole new route to success.


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