• Antoinette Minor

When the Unqualified Coworker Gets the Job Over You

You've hit all of your goals the past several quarters, have put in hard work and dedication to your job and clearly have the skills to handle the task of the new role that is becoming available. You've shown that you're a team player, you're qualified and ready to take the promotion.  In fact, you've had several conversations with your manager and the leadership team about your future with the company and how the new role aligns with your career path.  You know you've got it in the bag and then [insert seemingly unqualified coworker here].

After checking all of the steps off of your list somehow, someway the least qualified and, in your mind, underserving coworker receives the promotion that you thought was for sure yours.  Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by this coworker before?  Yes, we all have and it sucks but it's not the end of the world.  

I wish I could tell you that maybe you didn't work hard enough or that there was something you could work on because then it would mean you could fix it and succeed. Unfortunately, sometimes that's not the case.  My words are not to hurt your feelings but to give you a reality check.  Office politics, favoritism and privilege is real. It's all part of life and it happens.

Let me tell you a story about how I tried to land a job in a specific department THREE times at a previous employer.  Bruh, three times!  Each time I came prepared for my interview and made sure I had the support of my manager only to be put back at square one.  The second time brought on sadness, disbelief and a definite blow to my self esteem but the third time was the worst.  The employee who took the position had less experience than I did, less time in with the company and no degree.  NO DEGREE!  I remember sitting in my car and just weaping on my lunch break after I got the news.

Then there was a moment of clarity.  Not too long after the huge blow to my self esteem the department decided to have a meeting with a few staff members who had repeatedly shown interest in joining the team.  It was an invite to an, "interest" meeting which turned out to be more of a, "stop applying because we're not interested," meeting.  Where's Joanne the Scammer when you need her?  

The team spoke about their roles, expectations and introduced themselves to us.  Then the my favorite moment happened, they allowed questions... and in my most passive agressive way I asked all of them, "What qualified you for your roles and what experiences did you have?" As I said it, I looked the employee who beat me out on the position right in the eye because I NEEDED to know.  Why haven't I been able to secure a position here and what is that you all have done that I could use as a strategy to get in?!

Everyone went around the room and not one person could tell me something that was extraordinarily different from myself to set us apart.  I was as qualified, willing and able to do the job just a well as they were.  If anything I may have been over qualified.  Honey was working with a Masters Degree, okay!  It was then another moment spent in the car at lunch upset and angry.

After enough of being passed up I moved on from the company altogether and found an employer that believed in me from day one.  I thrived with raises, bonuses, promotions and opportunities.  At the end of the day I realized the previous opportunities at my old job just weren't for me in the first place and I shouldn't of been fighting so hard for an employer that didn't care for or want me to succeed.


Later on I began seeing this issue from a management point of view.  I've heard managers simply say no to a perfectly good candidate because they did not like them.  I've also seen good candidates lose the job because they already had someone in mind and the interview process was required by human resources.  I saw it happening right in front of my eyes and it was confirmed that no matter how much you shine opportunity can be denied due to someone else's agenda, perspective or lack of care.  Honestly, truly.

So, for the passed up yet brilliant employee who deserves so much more just know that there is a space for you to succeed and that some things can be beyond your control. There are moments where it's definitely not you... it's them!  Definitely use it as fuel to continue on with a new employer or opportunity because its not the end for you.  Be mad or upset but just know your time is coming.  Keep pushing and don't stop!  

See you at the top,

The Young Professionalist


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