How would you feel? Work situation

so i have a question about a situation at my work. :thinking: it’s about how what would you do initially (if anything) in response?

background: I’ve worked at my current company for 15 years, and am one of the older persons on my team, with over 25+ years design experience. we have several people who are shortly leaving our team (long story that isn’t relevant to this) and for two of the open positions (managers), leadership went ahead and promoted current team members into those positions (without posting internally or publically that the positions were open).

for my manager’s position (art director/senior graphic designer) who is also leaving, i have indicated my interest in being promoted (i more than qualify for the position in experience and seniority, and several of my co-workers have asked me if I’m going to take the job… which i haven’t actually been offered, although about 6 weeks ago, the leader who will be making the decision said I’d be great for that role, and he was excited i was interested). however, two weeks ago, i spoke to that leader again about my interest in being promoted, and he said, “yes … you can certainly apply for the position once it’s been posted.”

so i asked him: why are you (leadership) posting that position when you promoted the other two people on team from within without posting their positions? he said “that’s a good question” and that he’d have to ask h.r. and get back to me. however, i found out today that he WILL be posting the position publicly afterall (he never got back to me and i haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet…).

so… how would you react in this situation? would you see that as a vote of “no confidence” and withdraw your name? or would that be an overreaction?


You are right to be concerned. He’s being evasive and seems to have changed his mind about promoting you. He may be blaming it on HR because they want to go public or this may be an excuse. Anyone you talk to will likely deny anything so it’s a difficult one. I would apply in your own name and maybe do a second application with all your qualifications but under a man’s name (maybe a friend would be willing to let you use their name). If the job goes to a man with less experience than you I would see if your nearest competitor has a position open. Or swallow it and smile and never trust anyone in that company again.


Something similar happened to my wife a good few years ago. Rather than just ‘having a conversation’ with the persons responsible for recruitment, she arranged a formal meeting with an agenda and we very pro-active. They had just assumed it needed someone from outside and hadn’t looked properly and the potential within, as it was for a pretty high-up European managerial role for a large energy company. So she made sure they noticed her.

It sounds like you are already down that path some way. Perhaps, call a meeting and find out what skills they are positively looking for and ask the awkward questions to give yourself the opportunity to counter any assumptions they may have made, rather than passively waiting to apply once the job has been posted. Usually jobs are filled by the most pro-active and dynamic of candidates. Put yourself under their noses. Make sure they see you. Speak to HR as well.

My wife got the job. It is always worth sticking your neck out. No one ever notices the person politely waiting to be spoken to when there’s someone sitting next to them, waving a huge flag.

I’d say, go for it and if he is playing games go above and ask, ‘Why not me?’ That is exactly the question my wife asked. Puts them on the spot and also, if you aren’t right for the job, you will find out where your weaknesses are, so you can work on them and be ready next time.

Good luck and let us know how it all pans out.


This is a very interesting situation, I think Studio Monkey and Sprout have both offered very good solutions.

Sometimes I feel companies don’t look inward because they want someone on the outside who doesn’t have experience with the brand or company — so they can see if there are any “fresh ideas, or an outside perspective.” That could be the situation aswell.

Then again, ageism is a real topic and a point of contention. I have had many older coworkers who feel they were passed up on creative positions on their age because the young kids fresh out of school can be paid, cheaper and it harks back to the outside perspective or in this case a younger one.

The benefit you have is you experience, knowledge, positioning. I’d try to apply to the position but I’d also see if putting your name as a man with less experience would garner any results. If so, I’m sure you know what you must do. Hasta la pasta.


I fully agree with @sprout .

I don’t see the need to apply under a false name. (Especially a man’s name) That seems like a lot of work to prove little. As @Billyjeanplxiv said the company may be interested in an outside hire for fresh ideas and perhaps as @sprout said they “hadn’t looked properly at the potential within”.
Let’s say you apply under a false name and they request a video or in-person interview. Well now you’d have to try and find out why they were interested before you either ghost them or back out of the interview process. Feels like it’s adding stress on an already uncomfortable situation.

Focus your energy on requesting a meeting with HR and the hiring manager asap (ideally it would have been before the job was posted publicly). To prep for this meeting I would write down questions or concerns and bullets of why I’m qualified.

I’d go into the meeting with a friendly and positive disposition and do my best to leave emotions at the door. I’ve learned when it comes to HR and filling a Senior level position, they need you to prove to them why you’re qualified to go from a non-managerial position to one that oversees a team and will push the team to be its best.
If you don’t currently have something like that on your resume then you essentially have to put on a show in this meeting. I would get in a mental prep like “I’m going in as a manager to represent myself and to discuss why I’m best to grow the team. Worst case scenario, we discuss which of my skills I need to grow and their advice of how to do so.”

The very best of luck to you!

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thank you all for your thoughts. i spoke with a co-worker today (in confidence) and she mentioned that in a recent 1-on-1 meeting with a leader, my situation came up (about me moving into the new role). the boss actually said: “but don’t you think she’ll be retiring soon?” as as reason not to advance me!!

i know this is CLEARLY ageism, but i also know that it is extremely difficult to prove. as well, the current person in that role only stayed in it one year and the one before him, only two years!! so even if it did want to retire in a year or so (i have no concrete plans to right now), that is just so wrong. ugh.

anyway…don’t know for sure what i’m going to do. my gut says withdraw my name for consideration, and let it lie…but that may also be my anger/hurt speaking. i’m just so over it! its pretty clear he doesn’t think i can do it, at least to me, or doesn’t want to put the energy into supporting me in a new role. that would be a crummy way to start a new position… :smirk:

another part of me feels like i should bring this up with HR, but i actually don’t know if i have the energy to do that…or want to open that can of worms… our work situation has been under alot of stress and strain in the past 6 months, and its really taken it out of me.

but thanks again. i appreciate your comments.

Aggggghhh! That’s absolutely infuriating. I don’t know your age, but perhaps a few years back the comment might have been, “she might have a baby and want to stay home.”

Ageism, sexism, it’s impossible to win sometimes. Instead, companies would rather hire a relatively inexperienced 20-something who will, more than likely, move on to another job in three or four years.

In any case, maybe you can use this information to your advantage. In an interview, you can casually mention how eager you are to take on the increased responsibilities for years to come.

When I was right around 40 years old, I had recruiters calling me constantly. I’d get job offers out of the blue from companies who offered to pay my airfare and hotel bills just to check out their companies. Literally, every two or three weeks some inquiry would come in from somewhere.

As the years went on, and as I got better at my work and with more experience, the job offers began decreasing. Two years ago, after getting furloughed due to the whole covid thing, I began applying for jobs in my early 60s with absolutely no luck after more than 150 applications. I finally decided to go into business for myself, and for whatever weird reason, I’ve had no problem landing contract work. It’s totally illogical.

If it were me, I’d fight. HR might not be much help, though. Remember HR is the company’s department that manages the hassles associated with their employees. They. work for the company — not the employees. If you do talk to them, you might casually slip in the words age discrimination. I wouldn’t make a big deal about it, but they’ll definitely hear it when you say it. If the people they promoted without going through the application and interview process were men, you might casually drop in the word sexism too and hit them with a double whammy.

It really makes no logical sense, and as I mentioned, these kinds of senseless discriminatory attitudes are infuriating and counterproductive for everyone. Again, AGGGHHHH! :rage: :angry: :rage:


Normally I’d say trust your instincts, but how do you benefit by withdrawing from consideration?

I would confront. I’d tell him I’ve been interested in that position for awhile, and am thoroughly qualified, and I’m disappointed I wasn’t offered it outright. If I need to apply for the position to be considered then I will do that, and I hope it will be taken seriously.

If you withdraw you let them off the hook. Force them to reject you. You might end up getting the position because they want to avoid doing that. I’d also be applying elsewhere.


[…but how do you benefit by withdrawing from consideration? … If you withdraw you let them off the hook.]

good questions. i’ll have to think about that.

i mostly want to withdraw cuz i’m pi$$ed at them for not doing exactly what you said: that I wasn’t offered it outright! it makes me want to just get away from that type of leadership tangle asap, not join it!! our department is under some weird pressures right now, and honestly, i originally thought i could help to mitigate and help some of that by moving into that position…but now i’m not sure. i hate office politics and i the leader/boss was moving in a direction that minimized alot of that…being more open with the team, and involving them in the day to day project decisions more, but in the last couple of weeks, its starting to look like more of the same old, same old.

the phrase “don’t cast your pearls before swine” comes to mind…why should i offer to step up and knock myself out if they can’t see the benefits of what i might have to offer? i feel completely knocked down. i have plenty of work that i enjoy on my plate as is and frankly, don’t need the headache.

i’m probably not in the right frame of mind to really think it through straight, so i’m not planning on doing anything, and see how things unfold before i say anything one way or the other. :-\

I don’t see why you wouldnt try your luck at it. HR also isnt a friend.

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i get that about HR… others i know have been there, done that. :confused: yes, and at this point, it’s ageism and sexism.

here’s the bottom line: i guess i feel like they’ve already said “no” in that I’ve put on my “application,” so to speak (expressed my desire, have worked with the leader in real time for several years, and sent him a link to my online portfolio/resume when we first talked), and he’s basically responded with “i looked at and considered all that…but i am going to go ahead and look for someone else” i.e. open it up to the public. (it’s not about putting in a formal application, esp. since they automatically promoted two others on my team… younger men …without any kind of formal process or application of any kind!)

his opening it up to the public is in essence a “no.” am i reading that wrong?

i haven’t said or done anything yet … still think things over …


You know you are qualified and they know you are qualified. I would most definitely still apply. If you get it… great! If you don’t, you still have your current position and you will know exactly where you stand. Then you will be able to make a more informed decision. Always know your worth and try not to take this personally. I know it hurts like hell and it’s not fair. But, we all know we are only numbers to most places. There is no loyalty. It’s all business to them. This person might be getting a lot of pressure to hire someone with less experience and not from within so they can perhaps pay less or give less perks to. Regardless, once you know, you can start making a new plan :wink:

Good luck and keep us posted :heart:


This is something I hadn’t considered, or rather, hadn’t realised, when I first responded. When this happened to my wife, she was fortunate enough to work for a company with a good structure and culture. Also, she had a boss who was incredibly supportive, generally. When my wife posed the question, ‘Why not me?’, the response was an immediate, ‘Why not you? Show my why’. You can work with a culture where people accept that they may have made an oversight, or will hold their hands up to a mistake.

Conversely, there are times where you have to realise that if you keep running up against the same brick wall, your best bet is to walk the other way and find a ladder.

When I first left university, I worked for a good agency, with a good reputation, but a toxic culture of telling employees they were useless (apart from the favoured few, who were the owner’s mates in the first place). Eventually, you realise it is a cynical policy intended to grind down people’s expectations and self-esteem, so they could pay them as little as possible. I took it for about four or five years and used the time to learn everything I could. One day, I’d had enough and quit to go and work for myself.

Although my instinct is usually to stand up and fight the kind of up injustice you are faced with, sometimes you have to know when to cede the battle for the longer term outcome. Only you are going to know this, as you know the culture of your company. Unfortunately and depressingly, misogyny is still endemic in many companies.

My wife’s boss, by the way, was a woman! No surprise there.

As an aside; over the years my nightmare clients have always been men. Yet my best, and favourite, clients are predominantly women. Of course that’s just my experience, so hardly comprehensively evidential, but, in the main, I’ve found that men have a much more emphatic, black-and-white, confrontational approach to situations, whereas, women seem to be far more empathetic and willing to remove their own egos from any situation. For me, the latter approach, usually results in a good outcome for all, rather than a ‘win’, per se.

I know; hugely sweeping and generalising, but, as I say, it has borne out in my experience.

Anyway, I digress; my take, for what it’s worth, would be to always fight injustices in the first instance, but know when to sacrifice the battle and surround yourself with people who aren’t a toxic influence on your life.

Let us know what you decide and what the outcome is.


Transparent excuse - it would not be a problem in most companies.

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Possibly. He’s either saying “no” or “I don’t know”. If it’s “I don’t know” then you have an opportunity. It’s a pain, but you may have to climb a higher mountain than your co workers.

Don’t assume the application process is going to go against you. It’s a big unknown and lot of things could happen.


Age discrimination regarding employment in advertising and design is a huge problem that does seem to be an issue in most companies. It seems to be one of the few remaining forms of blatant discrimination that’s more or less accepted as being openly OK.

In the United States, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 makes it illegal for age (for those over 40 years old) to be considered when making hiring, termination, compensation, and promotion decisions.

The problem is that violations are difficult to prove. However, if there’s a witness willing to go on record saying she overheard a hiring decision-maker say something about age being a factor in someone’s employment, any halfway-competent HR department would take action because not doing so would leave the company open to a federal discrimination lawsuit.


unfortunately, i think i already know where i stand! his hesitation and flip-flopping about moving me into that role, along with his statement to my co-worker about retirement, pretty much says it all. :-\

I sympathize with you not wanting to apply because of how it seems you were already turned up for the job but I think the higher path is to prove you’re interested by submitting a serious application.
Then I hope you will be offered and have a respectful and professional interview. If at any of these points you don’t feel respected, taken seriously, etc then I’d certainly begin applying elsewhere and perhaps scheduling a 1 on 1 with my manager to discuss job satisfaction (and salary/benefits/etc.)