Er wurde im Laufe eines Jahres dreimal befördert.

Why is this “befördert” and not “gefördert”?

befördern and fördern have different meaning.
befördern is always used in a professional sense, meaning that you got promoted. fördern has a wide variety of possible meanings but would be wrong in this particular context.

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That makes sense, so you use “befördern” whenever you promote an employee, whereas you would use “fördern” to mean promote or advance an idea, concept, or goal, or to encourage or support a person?

yes, exactly

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