7 common mistakes women make that leave them overlooked for promotions


Being overlooked for a promotion, pay rise or being excluded on a high profile project can be devastating.  I’ve seen it rock women to their core, put a dent in their self-belief and knock their confidence for a six. 

And … I’ve seen it be the wake-up call they so desperately needed.  It’s shaken them out of a place of complacency and provided them with an opportunity to reassess how they are going about building a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Here are 7 common mistakes I see mid-career professional women make that leave them overlooked for promotion.

Regardless of whether you are looking for a promotion now or in a couple of years time, ask yourself – “Am I making any of these mistakes?” 

Mistake # 1: They fly under the radar

You cannot and will not be promoted if no one knows who you are and the value you bring to the team.  If you want to be seen as a leader you must get comfortable with raising your profile, getting seen and allowing your voice to be heard.  Flying under the radar might feel safe – but it’s not what quality organisations are looking for in their leaders.

Mistake # 2: They expect their hard work will be rewarded

You may be proud of your “strong work ethic” and it’s possible that you’ve even been promoted because of it in the past – but at this level of leadership, hard work is not enough. 

Stepping up to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition requires you to work smarter.  It’s time to double down on prioritising your time to focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact.  Sometimes that means slowing down and taking time out to think.  Leaders are employed to think – not just do.

Mistake #3: They wait too long

Positioning yourself for promotion needs to begin well before the opportunities present themselves.  It takes time, focus and strategic intent.  Sadly, women often wait until they have out-grown the role they are in before they start thinking about what’s next.  It’s never too early to position for your next ideal role.

Mistake #4: They leave it up to chance

Wishing, waiting and hoping you’ll be considered for the best career opportunities is not a suitable plan. At this level of leadership, you need to step into the driving seat and direct your own career path.  

Mistake #5: They fail to ask

As a fiercely independent woman who has achieved a lot on your own, asking for help is not necessarily in your DNA.  So, let me make this abundantly clear – asking for support, guidance and direction is not a weakness.  It’s a smart, effective strategy that if you choose to embrace, will open many doors.

So, let’s start with the obvious question.  Have you spoken with anyone within your organisation or your network about your desire to progress your career?  If they don’t know – they can’t help you.  

Mistake #6 They get distracted by busyness

Taking control of your career pathway takes focus, time and attention.  Many women I speak to have missed out on a promotion because they have allowed the busyness of their role (or their life) get in their way of doing what needs to be done to position themselves for the roles they want. 

Mistake #7 They rely on their manager

Waiting for your manager to drive your professional development and career progression is a recipe for disaster.  Your professional development is up to you.  It’s up to you to get clear on what type of role you want next and what you need to do to get there.  If you want something – new, different, better – it’s time to get strategic and go after it.

Which of these 7 mistakes do you see yourself making?

Whichever it is – there is a solution.  Let’s commit to doing a little work now so when the next opportunity pops up, you are ready.  I would hate for you to miss out on another role that is just perfect for you.

We are currently looking for 7 mid-career women who are ready to breakthrough what’s holding them back and step up to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  If that’s you, I invite you to join us in our next intake of Ignite – our 8 week group coaching program.  Click here to find out more. 



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