"If You're Not The Lead Dog,
The View Never Changes"
If you continue to think the way you always thought,
You will continue to get what you always got.
Is that enough?
Well the chief made his decision on who he was going to promote, and guess what, it wasn't you. What do you do now that you didn't make it?
You will be asking yourself, "What did I do wrong?" or "How could I have improved?" You may also feel depressed, embarrassed, humiliated, cheated, or "they just didn't want me because they knew I was not a kiss-up." These are some of the emotions and statements that I have heard or felt myself over the years.
Even if you feel this way, it is not a career-ending situation -- there will always be a tomorrow! Yes, be upset if you truly tried your hardest and prepared the best you could --and then GET OVER IT!
Early in my career, I took the sergeant's exam and I thought there was no way the department could not choose me for the sergeant position. I bombed it. Okay, I had all of the above emotions and made the dumb statements regarding the department, how I was the one who should have been chosen, and how I was so much better than the person they chose. Eventually, I knew I could either let it beat me down or I could GET OVER IT and move on with my career. This was my decision and the department had nothing to do with it.
When you finally get over your feelings that you were shafted, or whatever they may be, learn by your experience. I have to caution you not to let this self-pity take too long. Three or four days, or a week at most should suffice. You have to realize that after awhile everyone who is listening to you is tired of it and they want to move on. They will give you an ear for a while, but don't take advantage of it.
I always advised every candidate who came to see me after the process was over that I expected him or her to be upset, or otherwise they didn't want it badly enough. I further advised them that I paid more attention to the actions of those candidates who did not make the promotion than those that did. I wanted to determine how they dealt with adversity in the real world. Many candidates did extremely well and eventually attained their goals on future exams. Others went down in a ball of fire and are still, to this day, grumbling about everything and continuing with the "poor me" attitude. Get A Life!
Analyze your performance and determine what your strong points were and where you could improve in your next exam. Be honest with yourself and determine if you studied enough or if you answered the questions to the best of your ability. Was your demeanor appropriate? Did you appear unsure of yourself or too sure of yourself? Were you too nervous to remember the questions, or did you forget to answer the questions in their entirety? All of a sudden, your mind goes blank. This is often called a brain freeze, among other things. (Remember: If this does occur, it is permissible to ask the rater to repeat the question.)
Next, call the raters and ask for their input regarding your presentation. They will review your presentation in detail and explain what they considered your strong points, and will usually expound on areas upon which you need to improve. Remember, they were once in your shoes and they want to see you succeed, so question them in detail but do not argue with them; they are there to help you.
If the chief or his designee interviewed you, set up an appointment to discuss the results of your interview with him. This is very important, because it will not only help you improve in the future; it also demonstrates to the chief that you are serious about the position, and are trying to determine how to improve yourself for future promotional processes.
There is a saying, "When you lose, don't lose the lesson," and that is exactly what this experience is--a lesson to be learned. Develop it and turn the negative situation into a positive experience. You did not receive the promotion or assignment you wanted this time, but you are much better off then when you started. You know what your goals are and you are still striving to reach them; and you have a better understanding of how to achieve them the next time around. If these promotional processes were easy, it wouldn't mean as much to you when you achieve your promotion.
Continue taking exams. Many departments have an oral board process for specialty assignments. If at all possible, take advantage of this and enter the process, even if you're not sure you want the assignment. Who knows, you may change your mind once you begin to investigate the position and really want a change in your duty assignment. I believe the more oral boards you are exposed to, the more comfortable you will be when the next promotional process comes around. I don't know who said this, but it fits the occasion: "Winners make things happen; losers let things happen." Remember, you are continuing to improve upon your competitive abilities, which will put you ahead of your peers. Don't wait until there is a notice of a future promotional exam; prepare now because you never know when the next promotional process may be given.
One thing that is very important for every process in which you participate is to thank the loved ones who put up with you during these stressful times. They were with you every step of the way, and they will be supportive, no matter the results.