Skip to main content

10 signs your career has stalled

If you spot any of these red flags, it’s time to reignite your momentum.

10 signs your career has stalled

Give your flailing career a boost.

Careers are like plants. In order for them to flourish, they have to be nurtured. If your career is looking a little limp and dried out as of late, take a moment to ask why that is.

Sometimes, the cause is plainly obvious. A suffering company disrupts the careers of its employees, from entry-level all the way through the C suite. If your company has to downsize due to poor annual earnings, you might get reduced hours, a pay cut, or (gulp) laid off.

But other times, it’s not as easy to tell why you feel like you’re veering toward a dead end. All you know is that you’re perpetually floundering instead of looking for opportunities to advance.

These are some of the most common indications that your career has run out of steam, plus some tips to help reignite your momentum. 


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 feel like you could do your job with your eyes shut and one hand tied behind your back.

10. In general, your phone rings less and you get fewer emails.

Solution 1: Talk to your boss

Don’t wait around and hope for things to get better. Chances are, they won’t.

At the end of the day, you’re the person who’s responsible for your own career trajectory, says Rebecca Zucker, a San Francisco-based career and executive coach. Oftentimes, to take on new job responsibilities—and make yourself more valuable to your employer—the onus is on you to start the conversation.

So grab some time on your boss’s calendar to let her know you’d like to kick your career up a notch. Mention a few of your key accomplishments and what you learned from them, and express your interest in applying what you’ve learned to some bigger projects. Your boss isn’t a mind reader and won’t know how you’re feeling unless you tell her.

Solution 2: Keep growing

When asking your boss if you can be assigned new projects or clients, aim for something that gives you the chance to gain new skills and make a larger contribution to your team. “The adage, ‘to double your income, triple your knowledge,’ is absolutely true,” says leadership speaker and executive coach Steve Gutzler.

If you’ve got your eye on a bigger goal but don’t have the experience or training, don’t let that stop you from pursuing it. “Ask your boss what you need to be doing more of or less of to be considered for promotions or salary increases,” recommends Zucker. The key is to get specific feedback on your performance that you can use—not generic input, such as “you can do better.”

Developing your craft is one of the best ways to gain career momentum—not to mention a promotion. But if you’re not continuing to learn on the job, “it’s your responsibility to seek out new skills,” says executive and leadership coach Dan McCarthy. Your employer might even pay for you to take a certification or training course. Alternately, take an online class that to develop a new skill that’s in demand in your field—and make sure to mention it to your boss.

Solution 3:  Initiate change

Being left out of a meeting is not usually a reason to be alarmed, but if the meeting was with company brass or other top-level people, you need to investigate. Losing access to key players who can help you grow your career is a big red flag. “Ask your boss whether it was an oversight or whether there was a reason you weren’t invited,” Zucker advises.

Beyond meetings, make a greater effort to collaborate with co-workers as a means of reminding others of your role in the company. It’s when your efforts go unanswered that you need to seriously rethink your job. “If you begin to feel irrelevant,” McCarthy says, “it’s time to make a change.”

That change can once again start with you. Want to make a move but not sure where to start? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are two quick and easy ways you can take action without having to do all the heavy lifting. Get your career development back on track with help from Monster


Most Recent Jobs

Back to top