Last week I wrote about a Harris Interactive survey that revealed how employers choose between equally-qualified candidates. That same study also asked employers how they choose who gets promoted at work. Participants then took the opportunity to share the on-the-job behaviours can just kill your chances of moving up.

One third of the more than 2,000 employers surveyed said they would be more likely to promote an employee who has specifically asked for a promotion, making it clear that they are ready to advance.

Remember when you have that conversation to make it about what you can do for the company, not what’s best for you personally. Promoting someone is a business decision, so explain how you would like to contribute more to the success of the company and what you could accomplish in the new role.

If you find yourself not getting ahead, despite stellar on-the-job performance and making a solid professional case for advancement, it could be because of one of the behavioural reasons that employers say will keep them from promoting someone.

Here are the red flags that can sink your chances:

  • Saying, “that’s not my job” – 71%
  • Being frequently late – 69%
  • Lying at work – 68%
  • Taking credit for other people’s work – 64%
  • Regularly leaving work early – 55%
  • Taking liberties with expenses charged back to the company – 55%
  • Gossiping – 46%
  • Failing to dress professionally – 35%
  • Swearing – 30%
  • Not contributing in meetings – 22%
  • Crying at work – 9%
  • Dating a co-worker – 8%


The survey also found that even if you get the promotion, the chances are you won’t be getting a raise. Almost two-thirds of the employers surveyed said that being promoted at their company doesn’t necessarily come with a pay hike.

Taking on more work and more pressure for the same amount of money might seem like a bit of a scam, but it can still be a good career move. Reaching the next level can increase your value on the job market and open up better future opportunities to you. (Plus you can tell your mom you got promoted. That’ll make her happy.)

Peter Harris

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