11 Warning Signs Your Career Has Stalled
Your career can lose power for many reasons: a lack of opportunities, industry changes and plain old boredom are just a few of them.
Are you wondering whether your career has stalled? Here are some of the top warning signs, according to experts:
1. Your role and responsibilities haven't changed in a few years or more.
2. You've bounced from employer to employer without much change in job title or salary.
3. You can't remember the last time you learned something new about your industry or field.
4. People hired after you have been promoted faster than you.
5. You're not invited to important discussions or meetings of the kind you used to attend.
6. You have fewer job duties than you used to.
7. Your performance reviews contain terms like "consistently meets expectations" or "adequate performance."
8. No one at work asks for your help -- or no one in your professional network asks for advice.
9. You dread going to work in the morning.
10. Your manager and coworkers stop communicating with you -- in general, your phone rings less and you get fewer emails.
11. You spend a lot of time complaining about work, or and when you tell stories about work, you are the story's "victim," not its hero. Sound familiar? Never fear -- there are plenty of ways to get your career back in the fast lane. Here are some ideas:
Talk to Your Boss
A first step is to address problems head-on. For instance, if you've been stalled in the same position at the same employer, request a copy of the title hierarchy and job descriptions in your organization, says Debra Yergen, author of the Creating Job Security Resource Guide. “Work with human resources and your boss to find out what steps you need to take to move from where you are to the next step up,” she says.
Alternatively, tell your boss you're ready for new challenges and new assignments. If you've been quietly doing your job and keeping your head down, he may not realize that you're feeling unfulfilled.
Ask for What You Need
Alan G. Bauer, president of recruiter Bauer Consulting Group, says you can ask your manager for tips on what you need to improve. Also, he says you can ask your HR department what's going on with an overdue raise. "If your merit increases are lower than your coworkers', there may be an issue,” he says. “The company budgeted a certain amount for salary increases -- if you aren't getting your share, you need to find out why."
Brad Karsh, founder and president of the career-services firm JobBound, says to look for ways to be more effective, efficient and strategic. “Ask your manager about the possibility of a rotational program to see the inner workings of the company and gain fresh perspective and new ideas," he says.
Karsh also suggests figuring out what keeps your boss up at night. “Find a way to solve that problem,” he says. “You need to be a key player."
You can also take some classes or work toward a degree, suggests Mary Greenwood, author of How to Interview Like a Pro.
Or consider on-the-job training. "If you value continuous learning, you can volunteer for a project that will require new skills,” says executive coach Elene Cafasso. “Perhaps you can transfer to another area of the business or learn what's needed to back up a coworker."
Rick Dacri, author of Uncomplicating Management, suggests getting actively involved in a professional association. “Get a leadership role, speak before the group or write an article for the newsletter, for instance," he says.
Adjust Your Attitude
Negativity is one of the worst career killers. "If you are spending a great deal of your energy moaning and whining about your circumstances, it's time to try and make a new start before you become so emotionally expensive that the organization feels the need to cut you," says Cy Wakeman, author of Reality-Based Leadership.
Identifying your dissatisfaction and taking steps to resolve it is the first step. The next step may be to update your resume and start looking for a new job. "It may be that hanging on to an unhealthy or unproductive employment relationship is what's holding you back,” Yergen says. “I've witnessed a handful of people this year who have identified their dissatisfaction and set a date to quit -- even without a job waiting -- and found something just before or just after the date of their resignation. Sometimes you just have to take that step."
If your career is stalled, perhaps a new career is the right answer. Start exploring options by reaching out to your professional network, job shadowing or talking to your HR department about an internal transfer.