Although the economy has recovered since the financial crisis in 2008, things are clearly not the same as they were before the crisis. The Great Recession forced many companies to downsize by reducing the number of employees.
While this resulted in leaner, more economically-solvent organizations, it also resulted in two problems for workers. Those who still held jobs had to do the work of two or three people while those who did not have jobs often remained in the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed.
Books and articles, for the most part, have focused on those who lost their jobs and there is plenty of helpful advice on what to do to get a job. Meanwhile, little attention has been paid to those who are stuck in jobs where they are underpaid and overworked.
If you happen to be one of those suffering from workplace stress, you may be fed up with hearing about how lucky you are to still have a job. With the old ideals of career advancement being thrown out of the window, you may find yourself stuck in a dead-end job — where you feel you’re treading water and going nowhere.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to figure a way out of your career crisis:
- Why am I feeling stuck in my present career?
You could be feeling stuck because of external factors: You may be working for the wrong company, one that does not have a progressive management, or you may be working in the wrong career and finding it difficult to get good at something that you don’t even like. However, you could also be feeling stuck because you have fallen into apathy and have not seized the responsibility for your own career growth.
- What is the career that I really want to pursue?
Become very clear what type of career you would like to pursue. Clarity is the first step to goal-setting. You must be able to see the target you plan to hit. Without clarity, you can’t set goals, and without goals, you can’t make plans, and without plans, you can’t move forward.
- Have I outgrown my present career?
Make a list of the knowledge, skills, and talent you have developed so far. Is this what you want to work on or are you working very hard at getting ahead in a career that you have long since outgrown? Perhaps, you’re working as a nurse, but feel you could easily become a doctor; perhaps, you’re a virtual assistant, but feel that you could easily run your own company; or perhaps, you’re a retail sales clerk in a department store, but have more than enough sales skills to sell big ticket items for large commissions.
- If I have outgrown my present career, what should I do to move to the career that I truly desire?
Obviously, you can’t jump from a job with low pay to one with more pay by merely asking for a promotion or new opportunities. You have to raise your level of knowledge and skills to be able to earn that higher paycheck. The solution to close the gap from where you are now to where you want to be is to get more education. How do you go to school while still holding down a job? This is not as problematic as it may first seem. If you sign up for online programs, you can take virtual classes in the evenings and on your days off without the limitations of time or geography holding you back.
- If I like my career choice, am I doing it in the right place?
Perhaps, you have already found the right career, but you are not advancing in it simply because you are working in a company that is not interested in helping you grow. In this case, use your job as a training vehicle to develop all the competencies that you need to either force higher management to notice you or to become a highly attractive prospect for another company. Make a list of what you are not doing that you could be doing better. Think of yourself as an independent contractor rather than an employee. Begin to become highly proactive in your current position to prepare you for where you want to go.
If you are stuck in a career that you don’t like, you have to take responsibility for your situation and figure out what you would like to happen. These five questions will help you reflect on where you are now and become clear about where you want to go. Once you have clarity, then you will be able to move forward with creating the career that fills you with passion and enthusiasm and that will financially reward you for your knowledge, skills, and effort.
Today’s post is written by Kevin, an account director at for a boutique investment firm and has been working within finance, marketing and public relations for over 8 years.