What to Do If You Get Demoted at Work

Getting your position or salary downgraded can be painful. Here’s how to bounce back.

What to Do If You Get Demoted at Work

Recover from a demotion and get your career back on track.

Getting demoted is never in anyone’s career plan. We talk a lot about climbing the ladder at work, and for good reason: In an ideal world, your career would follow an upward trajectory, where you’d get one promotion after another, rising all the way to the C-suite—with a handsome paycheck to go with it.

Here’s a reality check: Many hard-working professionals face stumbling blocks during their career. Here’s what getting demoted looks like, along with tips on how to rebound.

What Is a Demotion?

So what does demoted mean, exactly? In a nutshell, it’s a downgrading of your job title, rank, job responsibilities, or salary—or all of the above.

Nearly half of HR professionals (46%) have witnessed an employee get demoted at their company, an OfficeTeam survey found. According to the poll, the four most common reasons for a demotion are: poor performance; lack of success in a new role after a promotion; organizational restructuring; or voluntary demotion.

Being demoted can deliver a huge blow to your ego, as well as your bank account if you took a pay cut. But, by taking the right steps, you can recover from a demotion and get your career back on track.

Find Out Why You Were Demoted

If your boss doesn’t offer an explanation for your demotion, it’s your responsibility to ask. After all, demotions don’t come out of the blue. And no matter how strong you think your work is, you may have been demoted due to performance issues, so you need to be prepared to receive criticism.

Your gut reaction might be to get defensive—according to the OfficeTeam survey, of the 14% of workers who said they’ve been demoted, 47% responded by getting upset and lost interest in their work. However, it’s important to keep a cool head, take a step back, and reflect on why you were demoted before you make your next move.

Devise an Action Plan

As much as you may want to run out of the building, the best way to respond to a demotion is to take the feedback you’ve received and devise steps to improve your performance in order to show your boss that you’re a valuable asset to the company. Also, proving to your manager that you have a genuine willingness to improve can generate respect.

Your game plan may entail seeking out professional development opportunities, getting involved in new projects, or identifying and solving problems. These behaviors will help you shine.

Rebuild Your Confidence

Resiliency is key, and having a support network at work can help you harness it. Now is the time to build and nurture your relationships with co-workers so you can lean on them for support. Also, consider finding a mentor at your company—someone who can help you cope with the demotion and rebuild your self-confidence.

Decide Whether You Should Stay Or Go

If you’ve been demoted due to something that’s outside your control, you need to take a hard look at whether you want to stay at your company. Did your salary get cut because the company reported poor earnings for last year? Was your position eliminated because the company is under new ownership? Do you clash with your boss? Your best move may be to find a new job—one that offers development opportunities that will steer your career in a promising direction.

Ready to get out there but not sure how to start? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get job alerts emailed right to your inbox, which cuts down on the amount of time you’d spend combing through ads. Additionally, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to different types of executive jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Don’t let a demotion derail your career.