I wasn’t given the chance to apply for a promotion I really wanted

A reader writes:

I am a full-time, home-based worker (since before Covid) for a large national firm. The company provides excellent benefits and despite being home-based, I really saw myself growing into another role eventually, which would be a promotion from my current role.

Earlier this year, the company announced some restructuring and refocusing plans that included a new role, for which I thought I was well suited. I had done this exact same job early on in my career and was so excited about the opportunity that I approached my manager to discuss my interest and he noted that it was definitely a possibility when the role was advertised.

Fast forward five months and they have created this new role, but instead of posting the role internally, they have simply tapped a colleague. I am devastated and want to quit but feel unable to due an impending divorce and a need to remortgage soon.

How do I move forward? Do I have an informal chat with my manager to seek answers? Do I file a formal complaint with HR? There is a slight possibility that further similar roles will emerge over time, but do I want to carry on with a company that engages in this practice? Should home workers expect the same level of opportunities as office-based staff? Help!

Unless your company has a policy of always advertising job openings before making a hire (even if only internally), there’s no formal complaint to make here.

You can certainly talk to your boss and ask if there was a reason you and others weren’t given a chance to apply for the role. But the answer could be any of the following:

* The manager for the position already had someone in mind who they had determined was the best person for the job. That might be perfectly legitimate — sometimes someone is highly qualified in a way that it’s clear no one else internal could compete with. Sometimes that’s because they’ve already been doing portions of the job and could hit the ground running, or have worked closely with tricky clients who will be a focus of the role, or so forth. Other times it’s not legitimate, and if they gave other candidates a fair chance, it might turn out someone else is better. But usually this is the manager’s call to make, given no rules to the contrary (and as long as they’re not doing it in a way that introduces the risk of race/gender/other illegal discrimination).

* They were looking for a qualification that wasn’t spelled out in the job description but which you don’t have. Not everything makes it into job descriptions.

* They intended to post the job internally, but ended up offering it to your coworker in order to keep that person from leaving or because they needed to move them for other reasons.

* They want the role to be office-based or otherwise based in a location where you are not (and they assumed, rightly or wrongly, that would be prohibitive for you).

It’s also possible your manager never passed along word of your interest, who knows.

The best thing to do is to talk to your manager, explain you were disappointed when the job you’d discussed earlier was filled without you having a chance to throw your hat in the ring, and ask if she has any insight into what happened. If she’s the manager for the new role, you should also ask about how she sees you progressing on your team and what you would need to do to be considered next time.

If she’s not the manager for the new role, you can also talk to that person. Explain you’re very interested in similar roles and ask her to let you know if others open up, since you had hoped to be able to apply to this one but it was filled before you could.

It is possible that this is about you being out-of-sight, out-of-mind since you work from home, especially if not a lot of other people in your company do. Sometimes being in the office means you build stronger relationships and your work has more visibility, and those things can matter when managers think about who to hire for new roles. But before you conclude that, talk to your manager and see what she says, because you might learn something that makes it clear that wasn’t a factor here.

To answer your question about whether you want to keep working for a company that would do this … a lot of companies do this. It’s not necessarily an outrage, especially if the role was under a different manager. And even if you had applied, there’s no guarantee you would have gotten the job. (In fact, if the other person was clearly the most competitive for the job, there’s an argument that they would have been wasting your time if they’d given you an interview just to be courteous.)

I’d focus on learning why the other person was hired and how you can position yourself better in the future.

{ 138 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    Interesting! In the UK, jobs must be advertised before being filled.
    Anyway OP, I can see how annoying this is, but it’s not something you go to HR over. All the best finding that promotion you want.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Must they?

      Genuine question. My last three jobs were never advertised – I was approached directly for this one, and applied on spec for the two before that.

      It could be a rule for publicly-funded jobs such as in government, NHS, schools and universities, but it’s not something I’ve heard of in the private sector.

      1. NotMyDayJob*

        This isn’t strictly true, I’m a manager for a large public sector organisation based in the UK, that errr, helps you get around, and we often only advertise jobs internally. They have to be advertised but not necessarily externally, unless we cannot fill the role internally.

        1. Violet Fox*

          At least where I am public sector jobs need to be announced, but the rules are different for private sector. I’m honestly not sure on the rules for private sector jobs since I’ve always worked in the public sector.

          1. allathian*

            Same here. I work for the government in the Nordics and here jobs must be advertised internally (within the government) for two weeks before they can be advertised externally. However, there’s no obligation to hire internally.

        2. Helena1*

          Even within the UK public sector, not all jobs are advertised. Permanent posts must be advertised externally, but I’ve walked into a couple of temp NHS jobs by just approaching the head of department and asking if they need any bank shifts filling. They said yes, I signed up with the bank, and they put me on the rota.

          My husband works in the private sector (software design), and doesn’t believe anyone ever gets a job by answering an advert. Literally doesn’t believe it ever happens in his industry. You get jobs by networking with former colleagues, by using a recruiter, or by emailing people with your CV and asking to meet for a coffee. They then ring you when they have a suitable project for you.

          1. Grey Coder*

            I work in software (UK private sector) and have hired people who found us via the “jobs with us” section of our website. Your husband may not consider that an advert though. I have also myself been hired after responding to adverts, but that was many years ago — I agree most people go through recruiters these days.

    2. Zoey*

      There’s no legal requirement to advertise a post in the UK. There can be union agreements requiring internal advertising, in some cases, but that’s not universal. And if your company has a recruitment policy, that can state if a job has to be advertised and this must be followed consistently.

      ACAS strongly recommends advertising, and most posts probably are advertised, but there’s no “must” about it.

    3. Green great dragon*

      No, that’s not true generally, even in public sector.

      I’ve been on the other end of this. The LW-equivalent was also frustrated she “hadn’t been considered”. We had actually considered all the eligible people in the dept, including her, thinking we had done them all a favour in sparing them an unnecessary application process that would carry very little weight next to our knowledge of their work.

      Lesson learned there – people like to have chance to put their case, even if it’s very unlikely to change a decision.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        “Lesson learned there – people like to have chance to put their case, even if it’s very unlikely to change a decision.”

        Unfortunately even that isn’t necessarily the case. I’ve been in situations where I’ve spent time and energy on a role that ended up being “pre-filled” and I would have preferred that they were just transparent about that. I won’t claim that my view point is the majority (I don’t have nearly enough insight to know), but I do know there are others with the same view, so it really is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of situation.

        1. Green great dragon*

          I can see that – though in this case we did genuinely consider everyone.

        2. Eukomos*

          In reality what makes people upset is not getting a position they really wanted. Whether they get a chance to make a pitch or have their time wasted or anything else is a thing to fixate on afterwards, but the unhappiness comes from the outcome, not the process. Unless the person who gets offered the job says “after that process? no way” or removes themselves from consideration before they get the offer, at which point you definitely do have an issue with how you hire.

        3. doreen*

          There are a fair amount of positions at my agency where the decision makers know who will get the job almost as soon as they know the position will be open – and they should know, as there are a limited number of people eligible for these positions, all of whom are well-known to the decision makers. But sometimes they decide to post them, and have people interview anyway – and it’s just a lot of wasted time and energy, because ten or twenty people end up having interviews that are not going to change the decision. ( And they shouldn’t – even a three-day interview process shouldn’t change the mind of someone who has known my work over the past five or ten or more years)

          1. Ego Chamber*

            ten or twenty people end up having interviews that are not going to change the decision. ( And they shouldn’t – even a three-day interview process shouldn’t change the mind of someone who has known my work over the past five or ten or more years)

            That sounds like a really shit interview process tbh. Are the 10 or 20 people internal applicants that they’re already familiar with and they just waste all that time as a courtesy or what? The only way I see the interviews being useful is if they’re external applicants the company isn’t familiar with—if a more qualified applicant showed up, that would be a good reason to change their initial hiring plan.

            1. doreen*

              All internal candidates. There seem to be certain people in my agency who value giving what the think is the appearance of “everyone has a chance” over what everyone knows is the reality of ” we already know who we want”. I recently had a bizarre conversation with HR- someone in my office transferred out. Under normal circumstances, I’d interview internal candidates to replace her but by coincidence, this happened at a time when my headcount was going to drop. I was told I would have to reassign someone already in my office to her caseload – but they were still going to post the position and have me interview- but I could only pick someone already assigned to my office to conduct interviews. When I asked why I couldn’t post it within my office, I was told “Because we have to let everyone know it’s available” and no matter how many times I said “but it isn’t available” HR wouldn’t budge

        4. Quickbeam*

          Me too….once did 5 interviews for a job I was oddly well qualified for only to find out the agency knew all along they were taking an internal transfer. Complete waste of time at my expense.

      2. Ping*

        There’s a huge problem with not opening up applications.

        The first is that preselecting often limits diversity. That’s why so many corporate board members are white male. Most board elections are closed to preselected individuals. Boards often don’t cast a wide net in their search. That means that they will search for people just like them.

        The second is that a manager rarely knows the full skill set of the worker. This is especially true if the worker has been at the company for a while. I’ve had several managers that were surprised that I had deep knowledge in areas beyond my current assignment. They only would know about those knowledge areas if I had been allowed to apply and submit my resume. In short, I was far more qualified than my manager thought.

        My old company actually ended up with some EEOC issues because they hadn’t advertised for internal open positions. Once they were forced to do so more women and minorities were promoted at a higher rate.

    4. Artemesia*

      That is sometimes the rule in the US too and when it is often they raise the hopes of people they have no intention of hiring to go through the motions — it is particularly abusive when they ‘must’ interview a minority and a woman when they already have Chad Dewbury IV in mind for the role. So it is not easy to deal with.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh yes, it is so frustrating, and is still no way to weed out the recruiter’s inherent bias unfortunately. An interesting addendum to the earlier post about holding workplaces to a standard of true equality.

    5. Mx*

      I have worked on my interview skills with a HR specialist, and she was saying the hidden job market in the UK is very high.

      1. Helena1*

        My husband has literally never “applied” for a job in his life, but has been employed continuously since 2001… (lots of different employers). I think most private sectors jobs are only advertised if they either have to advertise them for internal HR reasons, or if it is literally such a crummy job that nobody internal wants to do it.

        I look on monster.com etc, and honestly wonder if anybody has ever got a job via that website. It looks like the place CVs go to die.

        1. tiffbunny*

          Our company hires IT professionals via Monster regularly for roles in Ireland and the UK.
          Outside of the always-in-demand IT sector, though, I suspect you’re right.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Sorry, as a fellow UK-ian this isn’t true:
      > In the UK, jobs must be advertised before being filled.

      The only situation where this is arguably true is where people are being mandatorily-made redundant, and then the employer has the obligation to offer them any “suitable alternative employment”.

      I have been given alternate jobs when my situation changed twice now, without it being generally advertised (one lateral move and one promotion).

      Another time I was promoted to “Senior X” from “X”.

      Should I call the police on myself?

    7. Gaia*

      Is that true? I worked for a UK based company and hired for new roles in the UK office and several of them were never posted internally or externally.

      1. tiffbunny*

        No, it’s definitely not a legal requirement in the UK, though the UK does have certain strict rules around the role a job advertisement plays in determining your duties and responsibilities once hired for the job, etc.

        (The poster has now also clarified that she must have gotten her employers’ internal policies confused for external legal requurements.)

    8. A Silver Spork*

      A former workplace of mine had a requirement (not legally mandated) that jobs HAD to be posted externally, and also that people transferring departments or moving up in the hierarchy had to have those jobs posted and apply to them. I thought it was a waste of everyone’s time to write up a job description, post it, and then wait the required time (two weeks, I think) if you know that you’re trying to move your existing Assistant Manager up to a Manager position, but whatever, it wasn’t worth pushing back on. I went through this dog-and-pony show once and had a really upsetting thought: how many people responded to the posting, not knowing that it was already essentially filled? I don’t think that’s any better than LW’s position.

      #MoreTransparencyInHiring2020 I guess.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh I think all the places I’ve worked for have had a requirement to post at least internally and possibly externally as well, which is why I thought all places did.
        I get that it’s really frustrating if you’ve applied for a job and someone else is already a shoe-in. It’s happened to me quite a few times!
        But then I don’t know what’s worse really – just not advertising at all and perpetuating the privilege that already exists?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The other important thing to remember about interviewing externally is that sometimes they do get a good external candidate that they prefer. That’s good for them. And if that external candidate turn down the job because the pay is too low and the benefits suck or the toxic job… That’s good for the internal applicants oh, because it gets the powers-that-be thinking. (Yes I have seen that happen)

    9. CatMintCat*

      I’m in a government job, where all vacancies must be advertised externally and internally, before filling. Even when everybody knows who is getting the job, which is the case 90% of the time. You wait until it’s “your turn”, then you get a permanent job or a promotion.
      Some years ago, we had a job advertised in my school, with several external (to the school) applicants. Applications closed at 5pm on Friday. By 5.30 that Friday we were at the pub, celebrating the success of the applicant who got the job. Letters went out to “unsuccessful” applicants on Monday. No interviews, no process at all. That’s how it’s done.

    10. RowanUK*

      I’m also in the UK. I’ve only ever worked in the private sector.

      The industry I’m in now is a very closed network. Lots of ads of entry-level roles, but as you get more senior it’s more about who you’ve networked with and how well-known you are in the industry. A contact may create a role and poach you for it straight away. (And the industry wonders why it has a diversity problem…).

  2. AnotherAlison*

    Following on to the earlier post, one of our internal recommendations to management for more equity was that all jobs would be posted. They haven’t been so far.

    1. Feliz*

      I’ve also recommended that to the previous job I worked at. Not advertising roles internally is reallllllly demotivating for people and can easily create simmering resentment.

      I actually benefited 3x from the shoulder tap at that company – while I appreciated the opportunities it gave me I still raised it as an issue each time

  3. Observer*

    but do I want to carry on with a company that engages in this practice?

    What do you mean by “This practice”?

    In any case, I don’t see any action here that is egregious or even inappropriate. (Unless there is more context that you didn’t include.)

    Should home workers expect the same level of opportunities as office-based staff?

    It depends on the company, the role and the opportunities that might arise. Also, how do you know that this was simply about your being home based.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I’ve hired people after fully advertising the position internally and externally. I’ve hired people after only an internal posting. I’ve hired a person with absolutely no posting of the job because my manager wanted this person on the team. All of these were at the same company. There was no “practice”, just situations.

      Every circumstance is different. Find out the why before you overgeneralize what happened to you, OP.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      On the other topic, I agree WFH can be a disadvantage. It’s important to be sure people in the office know you are there and interested. Relying purely on your manager to do that may not work.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “Relying purely on your manager to do that may not work”
        If OP is good at her job, the manager probably doesn’t want her to be promoted!

    3. Proxima Centauri*

      From a diversity and inclusion perspective, it can be inappropriate. It’s a common a recommendation made to companies that positions should be posted vs. tapping people for them.

      If a company has a habit of tapping people vs. posting for open roles, I think that is a valid consideration when deciding if you want to work for a company long-term or not.

      1. Observer*

        It CAN be inappropriate. But not necessarily so. Taking a single incident that may be perfectly legitimate and casting it as “a practice” and one that is may be worth quitting over is a fairly big jump.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Yeah, this. The letter kind of read to me as “I told my manager I wanted to work in a different role that was being created but then someone who wasn’t me got the job instead! Should I keep working here or nah?”

          LW gives no other examples of issues with the company, no indication that their manager is an issue, pretty much just seems (reasonably) frustrated and disappointed to have not gotten the job they wanted, and is putting a lot of significance on the fact that they weren’t interviewed/the job wasn’t listed. These feelings are valid and normal but quitting because this happened, if it’s the only thing that’s gone wrong in this job, would probably be an overreaction.

        2. Beckie*

          But this single incident makes it clear that there isn’t a practice of posting all jobs.

    4. Flyleaf*

      The LW might want to work for someone who is helping them grow in their career. “… he noted that it was definitely a possibility when the role was advertised.” So, the manager knew that LW was specifically interested in this promotion, and didn’t follow up. The manager wasn’t obligated to get the LW an interview, but they simply let the LW dangle in the wind. Not someone you want to work for if you are looking to move forward.

      I don’t know if the LW needs to move to a different employer, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them look for a new boss.

      1. Observer*

        You really don’t know what the boss did or did not do, or what he knew.

        And even if the boss found out that the OP was not going to be hired and failed to tell them that is hardly a company that engages in bad behavior. There is just too much of a leap here.

        Now, if the boss has a habit of not following up with the OP on stuff that affects their potential for growth, sure they should think about possible moves. But that’s a very different thing.

      2. Roscoe*

        You don’t know that the manager didn’t follow up. For all you know, manager took OPs interest to the hiring manager, and didn’t find out anything until the announcement.

    5. BRR*

      Re “this practice,” would the LW be upset if they were offered the person offered this role? I don’t fault the LW for being upset, I would be too. But with the information in the letter, there’s nothing that sticks out that was wrong.

    6. TardyTardis*

      Look, we’ve all worked at companies where we know that Chaz is going to be promoted before everybody else, even if he’s a complete slacker. That doesn’t make that company great.

  4. Colette*

    I’ve mentioned this before but, in my experience, people who work remotely are at a disadvantage if most of the team works on site. It’s harder to get visibility, easy to be left out of conversations, and there’s a higher barrier to being included.

    It can also make some jobs harder – there are some things no one is going to tell you, but you will notice if you see people every day.

    Was the OP rejected because she’s remote? Maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t. Was that the right call for that particular job? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. All the OP can do is ask how to become a stronger candidate.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Agreed. The lowered visibility for *some* things was one of the few downsides I experienced working from home. My boss and I talked regularly, so I was fortunate to get special projects or assignments from her. I was never left out of meetings I needed to be in. We had global teams and solid tech platforms, and support for our WFH culture at the C-level.

      But I wasn’t in the office on the day one of our HRBPs was casually talking about opening a role in another department that would have taken me in a new and welcome direction. Instead, a peer of mine who was always onsite got the job. Out of sight, out of mind…

      I also missed out on some office parties and team dinners because, ‘Oh,we keep forgetting about you guys at home!’, but I was totally fine with that.

  5. Ali G*

    OP is sounds like you’ve fallen into that trap we all have at one time or another – thinking you are perfect for the job and therefore something nefarious must have happened and that’s why you weren’t offered the shot to apply.
    Although, you may want to talk to your boss about your opportunities while being WFH 100%. I know when I took the job I have now, it was a requirement that the person work out of our HQ. It wasn’t a problem for me, because I was already local, but due to the nature of our organization, I know they got applications from all over the US. The level that I am at, you have to work in the the HQ office (obviously home right now, but I am expected to return to the office for the majority of my work at some point).
    So you might want to get very clear on what you advancement opportunities are if you are not willing to work in the office. There may be some legitimate reasons why they want someone on site.

  6. Roscoe*

    This seems fairly normal honestly. A job I was at a long time had a sudden opening for the manager of our department. It wasn’t an “open” process. They knew who they wanted and offered it to them. There were people like myself who had been there longer, but they thought (fairly or not) that the person they chose was the right one. And I’d argue that in a promotion where they already know you, how you work, and your skills, it makes sense to have an idea who they want. I mean, realistically, I’d rather them just do that than waste my time with interviews and stuff.

    1. Kiitemso*

      Yeah, it is normal. Sometimes a position is specifically made to fill a gap for the expertise of somebody they already know and want to hire. There may be somebody who could have a similar expertise already in the organization, but they want this particular person.

      What sometimes bugs me is that I’ve had jobs where a new head of department will suddenly have a bunch of roles filled that have never been a part of our organization, with obscure titles that don’t make it clear what this person actually does. I don’t know the in’s and out’s of budgeting for such roles but it always seems like that if another department is struggling with workload, maybe some of that money for those random new roles could have been allocated to the department that desperately needs another pair of hands.

  7. WantonSeedStitch*

    Speaking to Alison’s last point, my workplace DOES have a policy of posting all open positions, though they may choose to post internally only if they want. But recently, a new position was created *specifically* for someone who’d already been doing the work that the new role would be responsible for. The problem was that she’d started doing it in addition to other duties that were also time-consuming, and simply didn’t have time to do both roles at once. So they created a new role for her so she could focus on those newer duties. One of the requirements they put into the job posting was that candidates must have experience with [those duties] at [our organization], basically tailoring the job requirements such that she was literally the only person who could meet them all. So even if someone else had applied for the role, being an expert in the subject with experience from previous workplaces, that person would not have gotten the job. If they already had a specific person in mind for the role you wanted, LW, it wouldn’t have helped much if they HAD posted it. But I do think that learning about what positions get posted and when at your workplace would be a good idea. It might indeed be that being a remote worker is hindering you, or that your manager was out of the loop about the intent for this new role when they said it could be a possibility for you, or something else entirely.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      That is how a lot of companies get around the “must advertise” requirement when they apply to a green card on behalf of an employee. By law in the US a company must prove they tried to fine a suitable employee among US population that does not require a visa or a green card application.
      So they just create a very specific job posting that only really applies to one person.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Yes, this kind of thing happens at my organization. It’s public sector and you can’t just promote someone, you have to find an open position, classify it for the job description and grade you want, post it internally, and interview the candidate. Then you either give away or backfill their old position, depending on circumstances.

      It would be nice if we could go to HR and the budget people and say “this person has been here X years and done Y duties at a high level, let’s bump them up a grade”, but that’s not how it works. And it leads to people applying for roles that they have no chance at.

    3. Glitsy Gus*

      My company does this a lot and I was kind of wondering if this was the case since there wasn’t really an application period. Often, my company doesn’t even bother with the wording to make the person being given the job the obvious choice, they just create it and immediately fill it with the person it was created for.

      I get why OP is frustrated, I’m the person who has been trying to get a promotion “created” for me for a while since what I currently do is way above and beyond what my position is intended to do. Unfortunately where I am the wheels turn more quickly for some people than others.

      At the end of the day you need to just ask, about the position you wanted and about your personal potential, both with your skills and with your remote status.

  8. TootsNYC*

    personally, I would say that in the original situation (wanting to apply for an opening that might arise), you should do MORE than just talk to your own manager.

    Talk to HR yourself. Write them a bang-up cover letter that lays out the case for hiring/interviewing you.

    Your own manager won’t necessarily be able to make the same case you will, and in fact, were I the HR person, I’d take into account the fact that you didn’t reach out. I know it hadn’t officially been posted, but even if I’d heard “oh, my direct report is interested,” that wouldn’t have been enough for me to say to the hiring manager, “you need to interview her too.”

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly, your manager might be unmotivated to work in your interest. Think about it… If you get the new job, they have to train someone new.

    2. TardyTardis*

      Sometimes you have to be willing to move to get a raise or promotion. Once a company thinks they own you, they don’t care.

  9. Anon Anon*

    It stinks when an opportunity comes up that you think would be idea and you aren’t even given the opportunity to toss your hat into the ring. I’m sorry. I also think asking your boss about why the position wasn’t advertised is a good idea.

    The question I would ask the OP is what percentage of the staff in your organization are home-based? I know some organizations have entire teams that work remotely and so advancement in those organizations isn’t difficult because you don’t have less visibility. But, if you are just a small percentage of being home-based, then I do think that it’s worth having a conversation specifically about if that may hurt your chances of moving up.

    I’ve found some organizations have managers who think that they know what they employee wants or needs and so they don’t bother to ask. Most of the time the assumption has decent intentions, it’s just that it tends to result in people missing out on various kinds of opportunities. As Alison noted, perhaps they need someone in the office and assumed you wouldn’t want to work in the office.

  10. HS Teacher*

    In my industry jobs are required to be posted. The problem is, a lot of the time they already have someone in mind, so it’s just a formality. This then becomes a waste of time for everybody. I don’t know the solution, but I’m not a fan of policies requiring all open positions be posted.

    1. ampersand*

      This is one reason I left my last job. The organization was required to advertise positions and interview at least three people, but probably 75 percent of the time they knew who they wanted to hire (internally) and had already decided on it before interviewing. It does not foster goodwill among your staff to have internal candidates interview for jobs they have no chance of getting, and it was disturbing watching management decide who got to move up and whose careers got stalled as a result.

    2. Ping*

      You can argue that. But I’ve also seen outsiders get the job because they had more experience than the person that was supposed to get the job. The more qualified person knew that they were more qualified too.

      They were forced to give the job to the more qualified person. Then they suddenly found money for a second position and gave it to the first person.

    3. KnittyGritty*

      I was bit by this myself. A recruiter (I’m in technology, so recruiters are common) sent me to interview for a position I was well-qualified for. It went well and over the next few weeks there were was a coding exercise and 3 more rounds of interviews, including meeting the team the new hire would work with, touring the building, the works. There was great communication between the recruiter, the company, and me. After several weeks, the recruiter gets in touch with me saying the company decided to “fill the position from within.” This was verified because the vice president of the group that new position would be working alongside, but not reporting to (sorry if that’s confusing) called me personally to apologize that everything had been dragged out the was it was. She explained that the company had a hard rule that a position must be advertised and someone from outside must be interviewed but since it wasn’t on her team she was not aware that an internal person had already been promised the job. I appreciated her reaching out to me about it, it still sucked.

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Thing is, it is also a way of discriminating. It’s entirely unintentional mostly, but this is the kind of situation where white cis het males with an ability to charm older white males have a huge advantage.

  11. juliebulie*

    OP, you mention that you did “the exact same role” early in your career. Taking such a role now would be like a step backwards in your career. (Your managers may have thought so too.) A voluntary step backwards won’t look good on your resume.

    1. WellRed*

      I wondered about this myself, though I suppose it depends on the type of work it is? Something to consider, OP. Did you really want this role, or are you unhappy where you are now and remembering your long ago role fondly?

      1. Anonapots*

        Let’s take the OP at their word that they wanted it and it would be a promotion.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There are some things that I did early in my career for a small company that would be a promotion for me to do it now because I would be doing it for a Fortune 100 company.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      I had a similar reaction, except I thought it meant that a lot of those involved might have *assumed* you wouldn’t be interested.

    3. Joielle*

      This stuck out to me too – the OP says they did the exact same role early in their career, but also that they would be growing into this new role and it would be a promotion? I’d be interested in more details there because assuming all of that is accurate, there could be something there that would give a manager pause. Anyways, it really doesn’t change the advice, just another aspect for OP to consider when thinking about why the other person was hired and what the OP could do to position themselves better in the future.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        The way I see it, is they may have done this job as part of their duties in a much smaller company. You typically can get assigned tasks way beyond your current role in smaller companies (I went from “girl who types letters for the sales guy” to “go to person for all content” in a few short years).

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Also, having done it “early in your career” is not necessarily an advantage if early was a long time ago. I’d have to relearn updated practices for a lot of things I did early in my working years–my employer could reasonably decide to hire somebody who had done the work more recently.

      1. Anonymity*

        Also having done something similar early in career is not the same as being proficient at it now.

    5. Ego Chamber*

      Taking such a role now would be like a step backwards in your career.

      No? Career paths aren’t always linear and some jobs are a patchwork of unrelated tasks, especially at the beginning when companies can get away with piling all the misc work on people who usually don’t know better yet.

      F’rex, if I was a bookkeeper early in my career, then moved on to more general admin work with no bookkeeping, going “back” to bookkeeping wouldn’t necessarily mean anything. Moreso if this was a new, specialized role that was created within the bookkeeping department. LW did say it was a promotion, which makes it sound like it wasn’t going to be a more junior role than they’re currently in.

  12. Ginger Baker*

    Sometimes the deal with internal job openings is just…crappy. My BigLaw firm “announced” to the admin staff the “creation” of [several] new roles. “We are so excited to announce” etc. and “strongly encourage anyone interested to apply”. I did, and found out later from the office gossip that [within this staff department] my experience was pretty much the norm: I applied and interviewed and all that jazz, and did not get the role…because…they took the [number] of people already doing a similar role and moved them as one group into these new roles. I was very frustrated. Like, sure, you felt they were doing this [much more similar role] and you wanted to create new roles, all good, just…announce that you promoted these folks??!? Rather than have anyone else interested go through the motions when it was very clear [and per department history, very consistent with past practice, I found out and would have known had I been there longer…] that you knew from jump that you were changing the job descriptions of the group you wanted to promote. *HEADDESK*

    It sucks and it’s not an indictment of my company as a whole but it definitely..changed my perception of a few things and informed some future decisions.

    1. Wired Wolf*

      Nobody on my team was told that there was an open supervisor spot until after someone’s friend was installed…in direct violation of their own policies (hiring for a given store is not done outside the store’s home country). Our manager rubbed it in by saying as introduction “We’ve been looking for a supervisor for a few months…” We were really not thrilled about it, more so since we found out this guy was promoted to department lead during our furlough when we were told that promotions/raises would not even be considered during the pandemic.

  13. MissNomer*

    In Colorado, a new pay equity law was passed recently (effective 1/1/2021) that requires companies to announce promotions and job openings and the pay range for the openings to all employees at approximately the same time. There is some debate as to what constitutes a “promotion”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more states enacting this type of legislation, and some may already have. It might not prevent employers from simply selecting the candidate that they already had in mind, but I think it is intended to make the process more transparent at the very least.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is long, long overdue.

      As a younger woman, I watched people get jobs that I did not even know were available. Management picked out their people and that was that.
      I tried once or twice to see what I could do better to get x position or y title and I was told things like “You could be David.” (I’m a woman.) Or, “Sleep with so-and-so.”
      My solution was to just move on.

      OP, your letter reads to me as, “My company is not very transparent.” Perhaps if you ask directly, you will get answers. We are long over due for changes in this regard.

  14. TimeCat*

    It is extremely common to demand some roles be in office (obviously not during COVID). I partially work training new hires and one of the requirements of the job is that I have to be physically present for my trainees a certain number of days per week. I am currently doing some of the work remotely and it is a lot harder. Impossible? No, but harder for sure.

    1. Anonymity*

      Yes and if she has never expressed a desire to work in office, Company might assume she’s happy where she is.

  15. White Peonies*

    This happens everywhere, my husband found a need and asked for a position to be created in his last 3 positions before he left to start his own consulting firm (none of his positions were ever posted). Working at home doesn’t help with being promoted, out of sight out of mind is very true for WFH. I’m not sure about your financial situation, I’ve found that I can afford to either fly into my company’s home base and stay with friends or drive in and cover a hotel room for a few days 2x’s a year. This has helped me get to know in person the people that I work with and the people surrounding my team. Since I started this my yearly bonus and raise has almost doubled. My week there is a hustle I am there when the doors open bringing in doughnuts or bagels and introducing myself to everyone, chatting, going to lunches(usually I am an introvert so this is a struggle for me). I go home with co-workers to have dinner with them (when I’m invited). When I get back I make it a point to try and email or IM everyone individually to say how nice it was to meet them and blah blah and follow up to ask about how surgeries or kids are doing (things I learned on my trip there) .

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Holy shit. I love how this sounds borderline unhinged but it’s also translated into larger raises and bonuses you presumably wouldn’t have gotten without using this tactic.

      Your company sounds just terrible at evaluating and compensating people based on their contributions, so take them for all they’ll give you by whatever means you can manage. Good on you for exploiting their weakness!

      1. EM*

        This doesn’t sound unhinged at all to me. Usually a company would facilitate it, I hope, but building relationships face to face has value. If you work fully-remote having a plan, whatever that looks like, to develop networks seems sensible.

  16. lazy intellectual*

    It’s worth talking to your manager and seeing if getting a similar promotion in the future is at all possible. If not, then you might have to job hunt.

  17. Not So NewReader*

    OP, if there isn’t the utmost of transparency for the hiring choice, then usually favoritism is assumed.

    Context is helpful here. How is your company overall? I worked for one corrupt place where this type of shell game was the norm. People just magically filled positions. If they were hard working people with integrity then probably most folks would have ignored the fact that the hiring process was not transparent. Unfortunately, not everyone was hard working nor did they have integrity. There were some bitter words, OP, real bitter.

    I am hoping that given our current social conversation, stuff like this changes. Companies can behave in a more transparent manner. Promotions made in secret, hiring decisions done behind closed doors, etc, can be reexamined. We can do better.
    My thought here is what is so hard about sending out an email blurb or newsletter blurb saying, “Sally was hired/promoted for new opening xyz. Sally was tapped because of her years experience with abc.” And then you would know, she has more years, she has special knowledge or whatever. In the absence of a brief announcement, rumors can fly … ALL KINDS of rumors. Companies can take control over the message and it is in their own best interest to rush to show transparency.

    So my thought here is, OP, if this instance is a one-off, then ride it out. See if you can get some answers and build an action plan for yourself.

    At my old place, stories like this were a dime a dozen. I even stopped applying for advertised openings because even HR laughed at applicants. “Oh don’t you know? Someone already has the job. We just had to put up an ad because of company rules.” You’d walk away from the conversation STILL holding on to the resume and cover letter you spent hours crafting.
    People went from embarrassed and humiliated to down right angry.

    Do what you gotta do to survive here, OP. I quit applying for things and taking an interest in openings. It hurt less.
    And I started my countdown, what did I need to do to escape this place and how many more months did I need to do it. I got through some life stuff and got things squared away there. Then I moved on from that company.

    Your first step is to find out what kind of a company you have here. And this means talking to the boss and/or HM to see how you can better position yourself, like Alison said.

  18. Quaremie*

    I have a question on this exact topic that I was thinking about posting on tomorrow’s open forum. I have a ton of direct reports (almost 30) and we’re considering adding in new levels of management because there’s just too many for me to manage properly. I would be promoting certain of my reports into these positions. While I have some good ideas about who I think would be appropriate based on years of managing them, at least for a couple of the positions, would there be a benefit to asking people who are interested to apply rather than just tapping those that have shown the skills that I’m looking for? I can imagine a few people may apply that I know I wouldn’t choose, but maybe I’d have interest from some that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered? Pros would be that I avoid the type of upset this OP experienced; also I may get interest from someone who wasn’t top of my list but may surprise me in an interview. Cons would be that I would probably get interest from at least some who I know wouldn’t wind up making the final cut, and it would be a lot of time and effort to go through the interview process. FWIW I don’t think I have ever seen an internal posting from my company so it would be atypical of me to announce a competition. I’m not even sure if my bosses would let me. Maybe an alternate solution where I open a conversation with 5 of the top candidates to even assess their interest in managing? It’s not something that everyone wants to do. Thanks for the insight and I could post on tomorrow’s forum if that’s more appropriate.

    1. Marcy Marketer*

      The way it happened for me is it was announced that I was promoted and would now be managing X and Y. If people are normally promoted at your company, to me that’s not advertising a new position but just a promotion. But if you have multiple good candidates and can’t pick them all, it would be good to post the position and let people apply.

    2. Me*

      The biggest flaw I see is you’re making a lot of assumptions such as the people you would pick would even want the job. You also run the risk of promoting people because they’re good at the job they do vs the potential for the new job. Especially with management positions, I’ve seen a lot of people crash and burn as managers because they were promoted due to being a star employee. But maybe most important is equity. You want your employees to think everyone gets a fair shake as advancement opportunities. If you don’t even give them the option to be interested or practice interviewing for a higher level job your doing them a disservice.

      1. Quaremie*

        Hi! I definitely agree in that I would never just put someone into a management position who didn’t want one. I would definitely discuss with them and feel them out. I already had this unofficial chat with my #2 who was very clear she did not want to be in management, even though she would be the obvious choice. It’s more about – do I give the appearance of a fair shake even though I would know some people wouldn’t be selected, even if they apply – or I internally rank the team members (based on seniority, ability to work independently, technical knowledge, etc) and work down the list without making it obvious to the entire team until the new format is announced?

        Thank you everyone for your input!

        1. Walrus*

          You don’t give the “appearance of a fair shake”. You give people a fair chance. That doesn’t mean everyone has an equal chance of getting the post, it means they all have the opportunity to demonstrate how and why they would excel at the job, and you select those whose skills, experience and fit are the best for the position. Through a strong application process, including interviews and skills tests.

          If you aren’t able to do that, you probably shouldn’t be hiring anyone.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            I think you’re reading this differently than I did since I took “the appearance of a fair shake” to mean courtesy interviews for people who are blatantly not qualified for the role, which I’m just not a fan of.

            Do you give an interview for a management role to Fergus (who has interpersonal conflicts with the whole rest of the team)? Or to Jane (who is fresh out of school and has been on the team for six months)? Or to Bob (who has experience but has been on a PIP more than once for just not following through on his deliverables)? Not everyone who wants the job is qualified and I’m pretty sure their manager has a good idea of who is and isn’t a strong candidate.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        If you don’t even give them the option to be interested or practice interviewing for a higher level job your doing them a disservice.

        Nope, this is bad advice. A manager isn’t obligated to let someone “practice interviewing for a higher level job” that they’re not qualified for. That’s condescending and dismissive of the needs of both the manager and the employee. I’ve been in interviews where I got the impression I wasn’t really being considered (and then the HM’s sister got the job, so) and I’ve been in interviews where I didn’t really want the job; neither felt like a good use of anyone’s time.

        1. Me*

          Obviously they would have to be qualified to interview. I’m not suggesting just interviewing everyone for fun. And if people are qualified then they should be seriously considered not just treated as a formality.

    3. Not All*

      At a MINIMUM you need to talk to the people you want to move into management roles. I, personally, both hate and am terrible at people management but because I’m a good project manager higher ups keep trying to push me that route. No, and no again. The only time I seriously considered it was when the person who was going to get it otherwise was a horrible misogynist. (I opted to leave instead.)

      But also, yes, open it up if you can. It will save a lot of bitterness about favoritism later and you may find out someone is interested who you didn’t expect.

    4. Uranus Wars*

      Oof this is a hard one. I can see it going both ways – a good candidate emerges and someone who you tapped for leadership bows out because they don’t want to work in management and are good as an individual contributor.

      I can also see something happening where 4 people apply for 2 jobs and then are upset that not only did they not get chosen, they have to report to someone who was chosen over them and foster some bad energy. That might be a reach, though.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I totally understand this concern, but at the same time, that’s adult life sometimes. You don’t always get what you want, even when you really want it.

        I think if it’s possible, opening it up to ask for applicants is always a good idea when you can. If there are folks who apply that you know aren’t the right fit, talk to them a little bit about why they didn’t get the job this time around. Ideally, this will let them know the skills they need to work on or even, knowing better what is required, reconsider if it is something they actually want down the road.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have a two-stage interview process!
      Give everybody (or the top 10 everybodies) a half hour interview. Ask questions designed to reveal the problems you have with the people you don’t want. If they surprise you, let them into stage 2.
      If they don’t, explain the problem (Yes! Uncomfortable!) and suggest strategy AND OFFER TO PAY FOR TRAINING to help them address that.
      Your second, longer interview would be for a small # of people who impressed you. And if your problem is something that results from race/poverty/etc. you will have addressed that for next year.
      Just a thought.

  19. Marcy Marketer*

    As a remote employee, I have directly asked my manager if my being a telecommuter will affect my ability to move up in the organization. If that’s what you think happened, you should ask.

  20. Six Degrees of Separation*

    Since there’s been a restructuring, the employer might have put the employee that got the new role in there specifically because a) they’ve been doing the job already (as mentioned) and b) save them if their current position were being eliminated, but they’re valued as a good worker. Also, the manager could have kept the remote worker’s desire under wraps to keep the position filled. Often roles will just…not be filled ever again if there’s a reorganization. I think that’s the least likely explanation but still a possibility.

  21. Sharon*

    I was in a very similar situation years ago. I was bored in my current role, and someone in a related department was leaving. His departure exposed some flaws in the way his role had been structured, so they expanded it and made it a managerial position. My boss asked me to take over the function in a very basic way while they found someone with related experience.

    I started the role (in addition to my regular work) and really took to it. I started working on doing things they had described in the job posting and really rose to the challenge. I asked my boss’s boss if I could apply and she said yes, but not to get my hopes up because they really were looking for someone with prior experience. Well, fast forward five months, they couldn’t find anyone with prior experience willing to take the job (for a variety of reasons), so I got it. BUT, it was a long, hard five months and I had to go to my boss’s boss (who became my boss with the promotion) because a friend told me they saw the job advertised on Monster or CareerBuilder after I had gotten the job. She said it was an oversight and took the posting down.

    Long story short, had they opted to hire someone else, I probably would have started looking for a new job.

  22. Absurda*

    I wouldn’t assume automatically assume there’s wrong doing here or that it was personal. Sometimes interest in a job is less of a consideration than you might think.

    In addition to the possibilities offered up by Alison and other posters, here’s a couple from my own experience:

    My org had a reorg at one point and I was told I could hire 1 additional person for my team, but I could only hire them from a specific other team under the same VP. The reason for this is that team was way over-staffed for what the VP wanted them to do, but he didn’t want to do layoffs if he could avoid it. So, for a few years anytime a manager needed another head, they had to higher from this one team under the VP unless they could prove no one on that team could perform the job they needed done.

    Another factor may be compensation. We’ve had commissioned sales people express interest in openings in our, non-commission team. In order to transfer to our team they either need to completely give up the commissions portion of their pay (so a major pay cut) or get a massive raise in their regular pay to make up for the loss of commissions. That major raise is often a no-go.

  23. Uranus Wars*

    I have no additional insight to this, but I do feel for the OP. If her manager is not managing the new role, she could be as surprised as OP at the position not being posted or being offered to someone else. I know this has happened in my career – I’ve had upcoming openings show to me by a boss with her encouragement to apply, only to find out the job was a promotion for someone else on the team and she wasn’t in the know.

  24. Alice*

    If we bring the diversity / inclusion / POC / minorities discussion here, how do people who already get overlooked for such opportunities manage to get ahead? If this job is posted, at least one can apply, gain internal interview experience, and maybe receive actual feedback as to why they were not hired. Otherwise, status quo is very difficult to overcome. While I don’t know what the LW was bringing to the table experience-wise, the practice of just tapping and hiring is one I wouldn’t mind seeing go out the door.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that more people need to understand why it is a problem and it’s not okay. But, yeah, I have been watching this for decades and we can do better here.

      One place I worked for needed someone with a CDL. We already had a person in our department. But the bosses never read our resumes. They searched high and low for a PT driver. Never bothered asking current staff, never bothered reading people’s resumes. The person impacted was super ticked. Other people actually laughed at the bosses.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For people outside the US, CDL is a commercial driver’s license. In other words they’re trained to drive heavy trucks and often to deal with special types of loads. (Hazmat being just one.)

  25. Izzy*

    This happened to me, OP and it SUCKED. They knew I was interested, they knew I was better qualified, but they liked this other worker better and so they just gave it to them. Worse, the colleague who got it knew how badly I wanted it and hadn’t even considered them-self for it. I left. It was yet another example that I was never getting ahead there.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Very seldom do people see these secret appointments as being fair. And, yeah, people leave because they see they will never “get ahead” in that particular company. It’s called transparency. We are all accountable to each other for our actions and that can’t be washed away by saying, “Oh, I am the boss.” Whether the resigning employee says directly or never mentions, good people leave over stuff like this.

  26. John*

    Where I work they are required to advertise a new position/promotion. However most of the time they already know who will fill the role so they post the job for less than a day, just long enough for the person they want to apply and pretty much no one else. I would much rather the company that just hire/promote someone then claim everyone has a chance but really dont.

  27. Bella*

    In addition to everyone else’s comments, I’m wondering if a bit more pro-activeness may have been helpful – especially for a candidate working 100% from home.

    Five months passed between when this first popped up & when you found out they filled the role? Did anything happen in between this? I would have brought it up again with the manager after a month or two.

    Rather than assume a conspiracy, I think it’s better to assume people are busy with other things, their memories aren’t always great, and sometimes persistence is seen as interest and polite waiting doesn’t win. I keep written records of a lot of things *precisely* because when I’m juggling 5 different projects over the span of a month. Assuming you just had a one-time chat 5 months ago – it seems possible your manager didn’t realize you were super interested/forgot to pass along the message/forgot you even mentioned it after all this COVID stuff happened/etc.

  28. That Girl From Quinn's House*

    ” I am devastated and want to quit but feel unable to due an impending divorce and a need to remortgage soon.”

    With all due respect, I am wondering if you are reading too much into this disappointment from your company as a personal betrayal, due to feeling powerless over the other things going on in your life? Like being angry at the company for being “unethical” in denying you the promotion you needed is the emotionally easy way to vent?

    You have *a lot* on your plate right now, and it would be so easy to just crack one day and make a bad decision you regret long-term, especially with the world being a dumpster fire.

    1. TimeCat*

      I mean this really gebtly. But there’s really no sign of anything nefarious here and, yes, some opportunities are going to be limited to in office staff.

      I agree this seems like some transferred emotions from everything going on.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I wondered this, too: If the LW weren’t overinvested out of stress from the divorce and money concerns. I don’t see anything particularly unusual here, either. It’s easy to convince yourself you had it in the bag and were robbed when you’ve gotten in the habit of fantasizing about how this one situation will fix your life, but that doesn’t make it more likely to happen.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, you are in the best place to judge. Do you feel you even given a fair shot at the job? It’s one thing to have a fair shot and lose. It’s a whole ‘nother layer of issues if you didn’t even have a fair shot at it.

        The toxic place I worked for would even go as far as setting up fake interviews to appease people and make them feel like they had been heard and considered. Meanwhile there were repeated stories of the big boss saying, “Yeah, I interviewed Bob. But I am going to hire Jane. I just had to make Bob feel better for the moment.”

  29. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Similar to anyone applying to any job (internal or external), you can’t make assumptions that this is a personal attack on you and your company is doing something sneaky and underhanded. While these are very slim possibilities, as Alison mentioned there are a ton of legitimate reasons that this happened. I definitely think you should speak to your manager, but don’t go in guns a blazin’ with an accusatory “how dare you” face. Use a chat with your manager to find out what you could have done differently (if anything) and to figure out what you can do moving forward to advance your career. It sounds as though you spoke to your manager once and then just waited. Being proactive and checking in with HR/the recruiter/the hiring manager may have given you a chance to apply.

  30. Bob*

    Its natural to feel pissed off in a situation like this.
    But despite the urge to martyr yourself, don’t do it. It may feel great now but once the euphoria wears off you will realize you just screwed yourself and also burned a bridge behind you.
    So do what Alison suggest but also bear in mind you must do it very professionally, with no hint of anger or resentment. If you can’t then rethink the game plan instead of harming your future prospects.

    Think of it as a strategy and you must play your cards (your feelings of resentment) very close to the vest.

  31. Anonymity*

    I know it’s a disappointment. But it’s nothing to be angry over or bring up as an HR matter. People are passed over for jobs everyday because their employer wants to go another direction or has a more qualified candidate in mind. As long as no discrimination laws were violated, it’s a part of life. If you liked and appreciated your WFH position before, continue to do so. Nothing has changed except your employer has filled a position. If you make a big issue of this, it’s going to look negative on you. To want to quit over it seems extreme.

    1. La-dee-dakh*

      To want to quit over it seems extreme.

      People quit all the time when they’re passed over for promotions. If they’re generally deserving, that’s as it should be. But you should quit by going out and finding another role, and acting professionally before your last day in your current role. Going all medieval on someone won’t help!

  32. Malty*

    Oh man I’m sorry this happened. This is giving me flashbacks to the time my workplace invented and filled a job role internally on my day off, I expressed the next day that I was disappointed that I hadn’t had a chance to even consider/be considered for it, and it was passed on to the next shift manager for the next day. The wires got crossed though so that when I went into her office she just started listing at me all the reasons I would have been bad at that role. So I went in to be like ‘hey there is literally nothing to do here but I work hard and I think everyone should have had a chance to apply now there’s new roles’ (more professionally of course) and before I could open my mouth she started listing ‘you’re too slow, he’s faster at it, you go off sick more’, while I sat in stunned silence. (There was no feedback culture either so a lot of the things listed were not things I knew they thought, and things like my sick record were not a problem, I was just sick more than the other guy). What a great day that was!

  33. La-dee-dakh*

    We cannot say what happened in the letter writer’s specific case.

    But as a general trend, yes, work-from-home candidates are going to be disadvantaged. If a tree falls in the forest, we don’t know whether it makes a sound. You need to be on people’s radar screens, regardless of how good your work is. All the introvert empowerment in the world doesn’t change this. If you chose to work from home, you’re placing yourself at a disadvantage.

  34. Sara(h)*

    I really empathize with you, OP! I’ve also felt crushed after being passed over for promotions — different circumstances, but in one case I was passed over twice in a row for the same position, buy a hiring manager whom I admire deeply and with whom I have a great relationship, so I took it very personally the second time (for a lot of different reasons, including because of the person he did choose for the role.)
    Then, 4 months later I got a much better promotion, for a job I’d never even considered before, because it’s more of a behind-the-scenes role that I wasn’t very familiar with (I actually applied for it accidentally, when applying for another equivalent role). And this turned out to be my DREAM JOB (I know dream jobs allegedly don’t exist, but I think that’s more true when you’re applying for a job, not once you’re already doing the job and know it well). I’ve learned so much from my current manager, and almost 2 years into the role am still challenged and rewarded in ways I never could have anticipated. My manager has been a great mentor and is just one of best human beings I know. This job has opened so many doors for me, and it’s easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me professionally.
    Furthermore, I still work with the previous hiring manager, the one who passed me over for the promotions, but just in a different capacity. We have a great relationship, and I’ve since thanked him for not giving me the promotion! Because look where I landed! And his reference was one of the reasons I got the promotion to my current job, because he and my current manager are very close and have a lot of mutual trust.
    Alison’s advice is perfect in terms of what actions to take. And please ignore anyone who is judgy in the comments in regard to your personal reactions or emotions. You are human! You are upset! It’s okay to feel that way upon first receiving the news.
    But it’s VERY important, completely essential, that you leave those hurt feelings and emotions out of any work interactions! Talk about it with your family and friends if you need to vent. As Alison advised, you can let your manager know you’re disappointed, and ask if she knows what happened, and most importantly ask how you can develop professionally in order to better position yourself for the next promotion. And since you work for a large firm, there *will* be more opportunities. Don’t quit over this! Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and be impeccably professional in how you handle the situation with your manager and colleagues. Good luck, I wish you the best!

  35. Elm*

    I’m a former teacher. Absolutely do not wear the collar. Kids know way more than people realize and eventually they (or a parent or a teacher or admin during PD) will see it for what it is. Even a union rep would think you dug your own grave there.

    For the next one, I guess it boils down to how important the Ms. thing is. Is it worth isolating a client? I’m a Ms. and frequently called Mrs., but I’ve found people get weirdly offended when you correct them–like those who get mad at you for not being pregnant when they rudely ask when you’re due. Or, they feel genuinely awful, and that is somehow worse! I ultimately settled for signing off emails with Ms. Elm and ensuring anything official was correct, ignoring anything informal. I’ll say, though, I’m glad I’m in a super informal field all around now and it’s not even an issue.

    1. Mx*

      If people get weirdly offended, it’s their problem, not yours. Unless they are clients, I wouldn’t bother about their feelings, I would bother with mine.
      I am using Mx and I am tired to have to explain that my genitals don’t define me. People can get defensive about it and refuse to give me this title because it’s ‘obvious’ I am female.

      1. Elm*

        I 100000% agree it’s more important to fight for when it’s a matter of identity. It’s not about their feelings in either case and people should just get over themselves when corrected, but it’s more a matter of client relations when it comes to the Ms. vs. Mrs.

  36. Cath Kay*

    LW here. Thanks for all the supportive and otherwise constructive comments. I especially like the comments that challenged my perception of the circumstances. By way of explanation as regards the ethics/unorthodox approach to recruitment – the company markets themselves as being ultra transparent and a “great place to work.” If they didn’t, it would be easier to say “this is how things are.” As regards whether a promotion or not – when I stated I had done the exact role a number of years earlier, this was for a smaller, regional firm and before I stepped back for a number of years during my child-rearing years. The role in question is for a large, national firm, so yes I do consider it be be a promotion above my current level.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think anything about this situation goes against being transparent or a great place to work though. It would be far *less* transparent if they already knew who they wanted to hire for the role and they put on a show of advertising it and interviewing candidates just for a facade of “fairness.”

      I think from the comments here, this is similar to topics like when and how to reject applicants–there is just no way to do it that makes everyone happy. Half the people would want the chance to make their case even if the company knows they’re going to hire Fergus, and the other half would be angry and feel like the company wasted their time.

      At the end of the day, not getting a job you wants always sucks and feels bad and so the process feels sort of wrong or unfair. But that doesn’t really mean any of the parties involved actually acted badly. It just means there was no way for the situation to end with everyone happy.

  37. Aitch Arr*

    In my 20+ years of HR experience, jobs are always posted for 5 days, at least internally. That’s due to OFCCP requirements.

    In the circumstances were jobs weren’t posted, it was because a new position was not being created, but instead the employee’s current position was being moved or restructured. There was no posting because there was no new headcount. Bob in Position #1234, currently called a Manager, Teapot Painting, will be as of July 1, a Director, Teapot Detailing. He’s still in Position #1234, but the role is a promotion, has a different title and responsibilities, and works in a different department.

    I hope that makes sense!

  38. Delphine*

    Tapping one person instead of giving everyone interested a fair shot is a perfect way to continue privileging some people over others. This is a problem, it’s not okay, and it’s not as simple as deciding that we can’t ~know if bias has an impact on this. These types of practices are exactly how we maintain the status quo.

  39. magistra*


    I have never commented before, but this is so egregious that I have to break my silence. I’m a teacher (high school), and this HORRIFIES me. Even a preschool teacher should not wear a sex collar when video-teaching. Even if I weren’t a teacher, this would still be a big, fat NO from me.

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