When your work gradually stops giving you the joy it used to when you started your career, you’re likely going through a career slump. If you’re feeling stuck in your job, there’s no shame. And you’re certainly not alone. According to recent Gallup data, employee engagement in the United States fell two percentage points in early 2022, to 32%. That’s a 2% year-on-year decline from 2020. It relies on various factors such as employees’ level of agreement on clear expectations, their opportunities for career advancement, and how they feel their opinions are valued at work.
We’ve all been there at some point or another. But if you feel like your career is stagnating or going nowhere, there are ways to get back on track and push forward again. Here are some tips on how to pull yourself out of a career slump:
Take a Step Back
The first step to pulling yourself out of a career slump is taking a break. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit or go on vacation for an entire year, but it does mean that you need time away from work—time to think about what you really want and where your strengths lie.
Taking a step back also makes space for new ideas, perspectives, and growth opportunities that may come along during this period of reflection (or even after). It can help show what kind of work might suit those skills best. It might also give one an insight into how other people experience the same things as us—which could lead us toward opportunities we hadn’t considered before!
Take Stock of Your Career to Date
Take stock of your resume to pull yourself out of a career slump. If you’re looking to switch careers or start something new, you must know what kind of work you’d like to do and how well-suited it is for your skills and interests.
Ask yourself: What do I like about my current job? Do I have any passions outside of this job? Is there anything else that interests me?
While there are no hard-and-fast rules for finding the right career path for ourselves (and plenty of paths lead nowhere), here are some questions that can help guide your thinking:
- What am I good at?
- How could I make myself more marketable in an industry where my skills align with current opportunities?
- How do I wish my life would look if only one thing changed — also, what would that change be?
Think About What you Really Want
You’ll have to make some compromises. It’s not possible for you to be everything to everyone, and if you try, your career will suffer. To get out of a slump and into a new job, you need to be honest with yourself about what kind of work interests you most and how much flexibility you need in terms of hours, autonomy, or location.
It will help if you are also honest with your employer. Telling them that they should hire someone else if the role isn’t meeting your expectations may seem terrifying initially. However, in the interest of both parties, you must ensure the relationship does not go sour or affect workplace morale in any way. Networking relationships replenish between 70 and 85% of jobs, so whether you decide to stay or move on, it’s a good idea to have cordial relationships with everyone you come across personally and professionally.
Find Out What Skills Your Industry Needs
The first step to a career change is knowing what skills you need to advance. This can be tricky, especially if you don’t have any experience or training in the field. If your industry has changed significantly over the past few years, you must research the trends and understand how they affect your industry. The same goes for other factors that may impact your work, such as technological advancements or political developments. If either of these things affects how people work today, then it’s worth considering whether or not these changes might affect where you want to go with your career moving forward.
The next step involves figuring out which areas of expertise within those trends you can contribute to and whether this means learning new skills or improving upon ones you already have.
Consider Volunteering or Taking Up an Internship
Volunteering is a great way to get experience and build your network. In addition, volunteering can help you develop the skills needed to succeed if you want to learn more about a certain field. You may also be able to find internships or job opportunities through volunteering that lead directly to full-time employment over time. So go ahead and dip your feet in industries and roles that interest you.
Ask Yourself if You’re Willing to Relocate
Is moving to a new location a potential solution? If you’re considering a relocation, it’s important to think about how much of your life will change. Evaluating moving costs and what they’ll mean for your budget would be advisable. This will also impact your loved ones, so keep that in mind!
Once you’ve determined that relocating is right for you, consider a few things before moving. These include:
- Will my company pay for relocation?
- How will I get by without them paying for everything (including any training) if not?
- What kind of job can I find in another city/state/country?
- Is there anything remarkable enough about it to make me want to make the move?
Take on Some Extra Projects at Work
Taking on extra work projects is essential if you’re in a career slump. It might appear counter-productive to take up more responsibilities when you’re already feeling unhappy at work. But it will give you more experience and exposure, allowing you to demonstrate your skills, learn more about your industry and build your network. It also helps with building your resume.
Consider taking up an extra project in a different team where you get to learn something new. Working with new members, brainstorming ideas, coming up with solutions, and learning skills can really help you fall in love with work again. If you do find any role more exciting than yours, and better suited, you could request an internal transfer. Companies would prefer reallocating resources rather than hiring new ones due to the cultural fit, long timelines, and mounting expenses.
Consider Taking Online Courses, Getting a Certification, or Pursuing Further Education
If you’re looking for ways to get back on track, consider taking additional classes. They’re a great way to learn new skills. You might also consider a certificate program shorter than an associate degree but still offers valuable training opportunities.
Online certificate courses are a convenient way to upskill from the comfort of your home. At Emeritus, we offer a variety of online courses for you to handpick and use to your advantage.
It’s Never Too Late to Upskill
Overcome the fear of trying something new, even if it’s not what you’ve done before. Don’t be apprehensive about asking for help when you need it, as this can make all the difference in getting yourself back on track. Need a program advisor to help you decide how to proceed with an online course? Contact us today.
Embrace measured risks. There is always a chance they could lead you somewhere unique! And if you follow these tips and keep your head up, the road will eventually look brighter.
By Iha Sharma
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