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I received a call last week from a woman inquiring about coaching services. She was recently passed over for a promotion and wanted to discuss her current situation. She didn’t get the promotion she wanted, however, she was offered a lateral move to another position. A surprising thing happened. She loved her new job! She enjoyed the fact that her team was now smaller and more manageable. She found the work stimulating. But most of all she relished her increased flexibility that allowed her to spend more time with her two young children. She was happy and fulfilled, but her burning question for me was, “Am I sacrificing my future success if I don’t seek a promotion right now?”  It was apparent that she felt somewhat guilty being content and not pursuing more ambitious opportunities.


I assured her that she didn’t need to feel guilty. There will always be future opportunities as long as you remain relevant and marketable. In fact, enjoying your work sets the stage for success on any level.

Here are some tips to stay relevant and marketable even if you aren’t interested in a promotion right now:

Focus on great performance.

No matter what your position, you should always strive to do your best work. Think of it this way: you are establishing a track record that will speak volumes for your dedication, commitment, talent, and hard work. Having a history of consistent performance will not only help you for future opportunities, but will also help position you now in salary negotiations and bonuses.

Increase your portfolio of experience and skills.

Just because you aren’t interested in advancement right now, doesn’t mean you should be stagnant. You can still strive to improve your performance by taking courses and looking for ways to gain experience. For example, perhaps you are lacking in direct management experience. Look for projects or assignments at work or in the community where you manage a team. Add that to your resume.

Build and nurture a strong network.

Create a diverse network that includes decision makers, influencers, advocates and potential mentors both inside and outside your company. This network will provide information about future opportunities when you’re ready and will also support you in your current role. A strong internal network connects you with colleagues who can assist you in being more productive and efficient at work and thereby improve your performance.

Understand your value

Identify your value proposition and how your work helps the company reach its objectives. Look for opportunities to communicate and demonstrate that value. Again, you may not be ready to seek the promotion now, but it’s important to establish and maintain your reputation as a valued contributor in order to stay marketable.

Don’t lose sight of a long term goal.

This goal may change over time but it’s still important to have one. I’ve coached many women who feel they can’t commit to a goal without the certainty that they will achieve it. Yet a goal will keep you focused on your future and help you escape complacency for the remainder of your career. The goal will also assist you to develop a strategy about how to stay relevant and marketable. What skills are important? Who do I need in my network?

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