You've been gunning for a specific promotion for some time now. There's a position one or two rungs above yours that you've been eyeing, and you're doing everything to earn it.. You scheduled a meeting with your boss (instead of ambushing her in the hallway). You prepared for the meeting and brought all the data you need to support your case, including a list of your strongest accomplishments. You made your case, you spoke with confidence, and you did your best. But your boss said no. Case closed.
Now what? How do you move on from this rejection? Keep these career-savvy moves in mind.
DO give yourself 24 hours
In the heat of the moment, you may be tempted to make a sudden move. But before you berate yourself, burst into tears, or storm out the door without giving two week's notice, cool down. Be disappointed for 24 hours, if that's how you feel. Don't be taken down by a tidal wave of self-doubt, but don't deny your feelings either. After 24 hours have passed, put the disappointment behind you and start moving forward.
DO choose your short-term course
Just like The Clash, you have two options: You can stay, or you can go. Is this job worth another swing? Or have you taken more than enough swings and invested more than enough energy in this stagnating endeavor (or sinking ship)? Think about it carefully.
DO make a plan if you decide to stay
If you decide that your boss's opinion is warranted, then you should stay. This means you'll need to ask your boss for a clear list of goals to accomplish in order to get the promotion you want the next time you ask. Obtain the list and tackle it strategically. Set a timeline. Will you give yourself (and your employer) one year? Six months? Five years? Make a decision and commit.
DON'T stay if it's time to cut your losses
If you really aren't interested in jumping through hoops to please a boss who can't be pleased, then it's time to go. Your boss may have an opinion about your readiness for advancement, but it's just her opinion. Perhaps you would thrive in a different environment. If you know that you've earned this advancement, but your current company can't (or won't) offer access to the next rung, seek that rung elsewhere.
DON'T wait to assemble your resume
You might not be ready to start interviewing tomorrow (a new job can be a very big transition), but you're certainly ready to start drafting your resume. Take out your most recent document or start building a new profile from the ground up.
DON'T forget to include any detail that can help you
Look back carefully over your history with your current and former employers. Check your notes and page back through your calendar. You've probably forgotten some important accomplishments and lessons that you gained here, and you'll want to remember these and highlight them during your pending job search. If you choose not to leave, record these accomplishments and save them for a future conversation with your boss.
If your current employer stands between you and your goals like a giant boulder, find a new path. Lean on your network, set your course and heading, and start working your way toward your next destination. Get help from the job search tools at MyPerfectResume.