Promotion rebuff has got me thinking

Q: I’ve been working as a field salesperson in the same company for the last 15 years. I have performed very well during that time, consistently exceeding sales targets, and also winning a number of sales awards. Recently a job came up as sales manager. I went for it, and was immediately installed as the unbackable favourite. “Yours to lose,” was the consensus. Alas, here’s one favourite who wasn’t first across the line. I got down to the final three but an external candidate was chosen. The MD gave me the usual spiel – ‘better candidate’ (not true ), ‘certain skills you didn’t have’ (debatable ), and so on. Now I’m questioning my future in the company, and even thinking about changing into something different entirely. I’m a very unhappy woman right now, I can tell you! Any thoughts? (FF, email ).

A: You find yourself in a very tricky position, FF – as, indeed, does the company.

Overlooking a valued in-house person can have far-reaching repercussions. In your case, they may lose a performing salesperson. Good salespeople don’t grow on trees.

It is clear that this rebuff has caused you to question not just your role within the company, but also your entire career direction. Thus there are two dimensions to what you are now going through.

First off, you have to accept the decision of the interview panel. Referees don’t change their minds. The dye is cast and refusing to accept that fact will not help you in either the short- or long-term.

Ultimately, the company is entitled to make their decision, and you must respect that entitlement.

It could be that this is the catalyst you need to move on from the company – or it might be a temporary blip. Ask yourself these questions: until this job became available, were you happy in the company? Did you enjoy the role? Was everything hunky-dory?

If the answers are yes, you need to then figure out if you can go back to being happy in your current role. And, if not, why not? Will the new boss be a problem? Has your ego been pricked? Do you feel you can’t go back to dealing day to day with your MD?

It is only when you fully tease through those questions that you will be able to contemplate whether or not you want to leave your current job, let alone your current sector. It is easy to behave in a kneejerk fashion now and throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I feel you should try to figure out the exact nuances of your current dissatisfaction.

My overall advice would be to let the hare sit for now. Accept the decision. Keep doing your job. See how you feel in the next few weeks. The dust might settle, you might realise that there are a lot of advantages to your current role – or it may be that this incident will prove the stimulus to change company or sector.

If you opt for the latter, consider your moves carefully. Employees regularly jump from the frying pan to the fire.

Career satisfaction depends on developing your self-awareness so that you can match yourself to jobs that suit your behavioural characteristics. If you decide to change careers, I would urge professional help to guide you through the crossroads so that you don’t just hop on the next passing train, only to find that its allure proves illusory and fleeting.

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