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Why You’re Not Getting Ahead

Updated on December 1, 2010

Okay. The time has come for you to “take stock” of your employment situation. You’ve been doing everything right, as far as you can tell. You’ve gone out of your way to be extra nice to the boss. You’ve worked weekends, and taken on responsibilities few others wanted to touch. You’ve applied yourself, deprived yourself, even redefined yourself, and you’re still not getting ahead. And you cannot figure out why. Well, it’s time you knew:

You’re not in with the in-crowd.

Not a part of the power core, not café society material. Take a look around. They’re getting the promotions, the perks, the answers to the quizzes. Have you made the effort to become part of the magic circle, only to be rebuffed? Well, I wish I had better news for you, but in my experience, you’re either in or you’re out. There are no alternates, and no honorable mentions. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get ahead at this company, it just means it will be much more difficult. Better you learn this early on.

You’re not trusted

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, people will make lasting judgments about you based on incredibly inconsequential little nothings. Sometimes all it takes is an innocuous comment (uttered either by or about you), a perceived snub, or an otherwise forgettable faux pas to turn your peers and managers against you. I’ve seen it happen and it is not a pretty sight. If you have any damage control options, better use them quick, as these things tend to not go away overnight. Bottom line: Think before you speak; think twice before you e-mail.

You’re too smart for your own good

Few things will intimidate others more than intelligence. Not youth, or good looks, or a brand new Lamborghini. Most of those things can be bought anyway, assuming you have enough money. Except youth, and even the perception of that can be bought. But, their riches cannot garner them one additional IQ point, and in the eyes of those people, you will become an itch that just cannot be scratched, a wall which cannot be scaled, a riddle which cannot be solved.

You don’t socialize with the guys enough

Would it kill you to go to karaoke once or twice?

You socialize with the guys too much

Don’t you ever go home? The key here is a work-life balance.

There are about a thousand other reasons why you may not be getting ahead. Maybe you leave the microwave messy, or you were inadvertently rude to the dispatcher that one morning, or you favor someone the boss had a falling out with in the past. The important thing is to be able to recognize when you’ve given it your best shot and the time has come to look for greener pastures.


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    • rotl profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I can relate to everything your wrote about. I'm not big on getting in with the "in" crowd and that's something I feel has hurt me in the past. Also, I agree that nothing intimidates people like intelligence.


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