Advice: "I was passed over for a promotion in favor of less qualified candidates. What should I do?"

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Dear Quota Team,

This is my 19th year in medical device and specialty pharmaceutical sales.  I have had a really good career launching multiple new products within different subspecialties over the years. 

A few years ago I decided to go back to college and completed my MBA after I felt that I had plateaued in my current role. The company I work for is in the middle of a brand new product launch and an opening for a new position within the market became available. 

My interim manager saw my potential and told me that I should apply for the position, but told me to first clear it with the powers that be. I spoke to our CEO, our National Sales Director, and National Sales trainer and all of them gave me their blessing on the role. All parties seemed to be in agreement and made it seem like I was the right candidate.  

After applying for the position, I emailed the internal recruiter who ghosted me for 2 weeks. Then, I received a letter stating that I was not to be considered for the role due to the previous quarter’s performance. Meanwhile, all three of the other candidates for the role are currently in grad school and one candidate was hired on with no experience, whereas I have 9 years experience in buy-and-bill products.

After being passed over for the position, what would you recommend I do next? How would you handle this? Should I move on or stay with my current employer? Any feedback would be most helpful. Thanks in advance!


Disappointed in South Carolina   


Dear Disappointed,

You feel let down due to being passed over for the new role, and it doesn’t help that the people being considered have no experience. It definitely sounds like a punch to the gut. 

The way we see it, you have three options. 

Option 1: Don’t take no for an answer. Put together a compelling email or presentation for why you are the perfect candidate for the role and send it to the hiring manager, and everybody else you spoke with who encouraged you to apply for the role. Make sure you focus on your positive attributes, and stay away from criticizing the other candidates. Why are you the best person for the role, and more importantly, how do you intend to make sure you sell a lot of products? 

Keep in mind that if this doesn’t go well, then you might find yourself in a worse situation than you are now. Maybe a no is a no, and they won’t appreciate you pushing the issue. If you go this route, make sure you’re ready to deal with the blowback, and make sure you’d rather shoot for the new role at the risk of losing your current one. 

Option 2: Suck it up, lick your wounds, and keep doing what you were doing before this role became available (at least for now). Is it a good job? Do you make good money, have decent work/life balance, and are motivated to get up every morning and work? If so, then this might be a good option. We all lose every now and then. The question is what we do after it happens. 

Option 3: Leave the company. This is pretty drastic, but so is option 1. There are undoubtedly other roles out there, but only you know whether they’ll be an improvement from your current one. And only you can decide whether you feel your relationship with your employer has been irreparably changed. 

Different people will take different paths, and it’s up to you to decide what’s best. But make sure that whatever decision you make, you make it from a place of calm and logic, rather than emotion and anger. Because the worst outcome would be doing something you regret. Good luck! 

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