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Employers reveal top factors standing in the way of a promotion

Things that could prevent you from getting a promotion

You come in early and leave late, you never miss a deadline, and your clients love you. So why haven’t you gotten a promotion already? A recent study from CareerBuilder sheds light on the physical and behavioural factors that can hurt employees’ career advancement prospects.

According to the national survey, provocative clothing, a dishevelled appearance and unprofessional haircut are just a few of the things that cause employers to think twice before giving them a promotion. Behaviours such as exhibiting a negative attitude, consistently arriving late or gossiping can also work against them.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder and included a representative sample of 2175 hiring and human resource managers across industries and company sizes.

Attitudes toward appearance
When asked which aspects of a worker’s physical appearance would make them less likely to promote that person, employers were most out of favour with provocative attire (44%) and wrinkled clothes or shabby appearance (43%). Other answers include:

  • Piercings outside of traditional ear piercings: 32%
  • Attire that is too casual for the workplace: 27%
  • Visible tattoos: 27%
  • An unprofessional or ostentatious haircut: 25%
  • Unprofessional or ostentatious facial hair: 24%
  • Bad breath: 23%
  • Heavy perfume or cologne: 21%
  • Too much makeup: 15%

Behavioural blockades
Employers also revealed the top behaviours that hurt an employee’s chances for promotion, with poor attitudes and consistent tardiness taking the top spot.

  • Having a negative or pessimistic attitude: 62%
  • Regularly showing up to work late: 62%
  • Using vulgar language: 51%
  • Regularly leaving work early: 49%
  • Taking too many sick days: 49%
  • Gossiping: 44%
  • Spending office time on personal social media accounts: 39%
  • Neglecting to clean up after himself/herself: 36%
  • Always initiating non work-related conversations with co-workers: 27%
  • Taking personal calls at work: 24%
  • Taking smoke breaks: 19%

“In addition to on-the-job accomplishments, employers also take attitude, behaviour and appearance into consideration when deciding who deserves to move up in the ranks,” said Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer at CareerBuilder. “While your work performance may be strong, if you’re not presenting yourself in a professional manner, it may be preventing your superiors from taking you seriously.”