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Why was I turned down for a sales manager job?

The Question

I am in sales for a small/mid-sized company, and doing well – hitting targets and opening new markets. Recently, a sales manager position became vacant, and I approached my vice-president of sales regarding my interest in the position. After several meetings, I did not get the promotion. The feedback I received was I was doing well in my role and there was hesitancy to take me out of it. They said I should really think about 'why' I want to be a manager, and that not being a manager doesn't mean you can't be a leader. I am unsure what to do with this feedback, or what steps I can take to reach a sales management position, which I see as the next step in my career.

The Answer

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Why do you want to be a manager? Is it that you want to be in a leadership role, because what your supervisor said is true – you can be a leader in your current role. If you are looking to make the next step in your career, what part of your career do you want to hone in on to take that next step? True, you are looking at the next role up, but perhaps you need to think about what skills you need in order to become the manager you want to be.

Externally, you may want to have a conversation with your supervisor regarding the future you have with the company. It seems that they are telling you that you are in the right spot, right now. What does that mean? Is there room to move up and if so, why are they not invested in helping you get there? What have you done for yourself to get there and has this been communicated to your manager?

I would also question your interview skills. Your company is taking you through the motions of several interview stages, only for you to come up short. If they are happy where you are at, why take you through the interview process? Have a conversation about how you interviewed (as opposed to why you did not get the job). Were there any red flags in your answers or presentation? Take this as constructive feedback to improve your interview skills for future opportunities.

Perhaps you have reached the highest you are going to go. It is up to you to accept that or not. If you do, work in those leadership attributes in your sales job. If you do not accept this, then it's time to look elsewhere.

Eileen Dooley (@EileenDooley) is a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmailcom. Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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