5 Reasons why you are not advancing in your career

Do you ever wonder why you are not advancing in your career as quickly as you hope?

Are any of your coworker being promoted ahead of you?

Does it feel like you are stuck in your current position?

If you work for an organization with opportunities to be promoted within, you might be wondering about questions like above.

In this post, I will go over five possible reasons why you are not advancing in your career.

1. You are not acting like one

Let’s say you work for a company as a software engineer and your next available position is a Sr. Software Engineer.

You’ve worked for a company for few years and believe you are doing a great job.

Your employer says to keep up with a good job with no sign of promotion.

What is going on here?

While you are successful at fulfilling the expectation of current position, you might be failing to satisfy the expectation of your next possible position, the Sr. Software engineer.

If you think that position must be given first before you act like it, then your path to progression is no where to be found.

Instead, you need to show your capability to be a Sr. Software Engineer first before you can earn the title.

Ideally, nobody should question why you were promoted because it’s obvious that you are already qualified to be one.

So instead of complaining, do some research and take actions towards the next step.

2. You are treating it as a check list

Advancing in your career is more than checking boxes off a list.

Let’s say your organization has a defined job description for the next position you want.

If you invest your time being able to do everything that’s written in the job description of next level position, do you automatically qualify as someone who should be taking the role?

Probably not.

It’s not good enough to quality yourself with a list of skills that you bring to the table if nobody values your contribution to the team and to the organization as a whole.

You have to build trust with your team, help others win in their role, prove how you are committed to bring values for the organization.

So rather than comparing yourself against an arbitrary list of items to check-off, focus on how you can add value to your organization.

3. You are treating promotion like a competition

If you work for an organization, you are not the center of the universe.

Promotion rarely is about just you winning the competition.

Organizations promote talents to retain good talents and manage the resources efficiently.

So if someone else gets promoted, there are organizational reasons behind the decision whether you agree or disagree.

For example, an organization that values structures and formal procedures will likely choose someone who can enforce the same value down the chain over someone who like to be autonomous.

Instead of focusing on how you are going to win, you need to take a step back and think what makes your organization win.

If your organization can succeed by promoting you, then your chances of promotion are higher.

So find out what brings value to your business and improve on the areas you can contribute to them.

4. You are only doing what’s expected

If your job has a routine and quota that is expected to fill, doing just enough won’t get you to the next level.

Sure, you are only paid for the responsibilities you agreed to and doing more will not earn you a penny more.

In the culture where you are encouraged to say “no” and refuse to work more than you are paid for, it is easy to be in the back seat of your career progression.

If you are trying to advance in your career, you have to move forward somehow.

Does that mean you have to lean towards work and away from lifestyle?

It doesn’t have to be.

What’s for sure is that being lazy and being adamant about your scope of work is a sure way to make you stuck where you are.

5. You are only looking at your production skill

In some cases, you might already be capable of doing same tasks that someone in the next level position are doing.

Let’s say you are a graphic designer, and you are capable of designing amazing things with Photoshop just as good as a Sr. graphic designer in your organization.

So should you also be promoted to be the Sr. graphic designer based on your Photoshop skill alone?

Probably not.

The higher up in the position you climb, you are typically expected to bring more than your production skill to the table: efficient workflow, leadership, effective communication, efficient resource allocation, etc.

In fact, you are likely to do less of actual work and more resource management work which you may or may not enjoy.

So while certain level of production skill is required to be someone in higher position, there are many other things you need to be capable of.


In many cases, you need to be a good steward of your career progression.

Your organization is not automatically going to give you a promotion if there is no value to the deal.

If you are looking to advance in your career, you have to think of how to make others win because of your promotion.

On the other hand, you should realize that promotion is not always right for you either if it takes away what you enjoy doing and gives more responsibilities you don’t want to take on.

In some cases, it is also possible that your career path is a dead-end in your current job and it might require you to jump off the boat to advance forward.

Hopefully, there is something you can take home from this post to evaluate your situation better from wider perspective of how organization work.

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