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What to Do When You Like Your Job but It’s Going Nowhere

By Maurie Backman – Sep 13, 2018 at 7:37AM

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It's a challenging situation. Here's how to handle it.

Most people who find themselves in dead-end jobs aren't too happy about it. But what happens when you're reasonably content with your role, salary, and colleagues, only your options for upward mobility at your company are basically non-existent? While you may not want to leave your employer, if you stay too much longer, you could really end up stunting your career. Fortunately, there may be a solution in the form of these key moves.

1. Ask for more responsibilities

Perhaps the reason you feel locked into a limited of set of responsibilities is that you've never spoken up and asked for more. Many people are hesitant to ask their managers for more work because they fear that in doing so, they'll give the impression that they're not busy enough and therefore aren't needed. But if you keep your language positive and explain that you're looking to broaden your horizons and offer more value to the company, there's a good chance that conversation will not only go well, but result in more tasks on your plate -- tasks that could pave the way for positive movement.

Woman leaning at a desk as if bored


2. Create your own projects

If your boss is unable to come up with additional assignments that allow you to do more at work, why not create your own? Talk to your colleagues, observe different teams, and figure out what things you can do to make their lives easier or help things run more efficiently. Then, present those ideas to your manager and ask for permission to run with them. Chances are, you'll get the go-ahead. Pull them off successfully, and your boss might come to recognize your value and help carve out an upward path for you.

3. Boost your skills

A good way to bust out of a rut at work is to make yourself a more capable, qualified employee, and you can achieve that goal by taking steps to boost your skills. If there's something specific to your line of work that you need to improve on, take a course or aim to get certified. It also helps to work on boosting some of the soft skills that tend to apply universally, like problem-solving, time management, and organization.

4. Start a job search

It stinks to have to look for a new job when, in many ways, you're satisfied with your current one. But if, despite your best efforts, you have reason to believe you won't be advancing within the company anytime in the next year or so, then you may have to dust off your resume and take your talents elsewhere. Tempting as it may be to continue coasting at work, the fact of the matter is that the longer you do, the more you risk hurting your career on a long-term basis. You're better off seeing what's out there and finding another employer you enjoy working for -- one with the capacity to help you progress and grow.

It's always helpful to like your job, since so many people don't. But remember this: If your role really offers no room for professional growth, you might quickly come to change your tune. That's why you must take steps to change your situation, or pursue other opportunities if your efforts don't pan out. The last thing you want is to stay too long at a job that's going nowhere and come to regret it down the line.

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