A labrador has his head stuck in a cat flap on a blue wooden door, symbolising feeling stuck.
Image: © Nigel/Stock.adobe.com

8 actions to take if you’re feeling stuck in your job

16 Dec 2020

Has the impact of the pandemic left you feeling stuck in your career? Hays’ Chris Dottie shares some steps you can take to get moving in the right direction.

Feeling stuck in your job can be extremely frustrating, particularly in a difficult labour market like the one we’re experiencing now. The good news, however, is that there are some proactive things you can do to help you feel as if you’re moving your career in the right direction, instead of standing still.

1. Restore your self-confidence

Working remotely, or at least in a hybrid way, can leave you devoid of all those positive reinforcements and small confidence boosts that you would ordinarily experience throughout the day – often without realising – when working in a buzzing office. This may have left you doubting your skills, denting away at your work mojo in the process.

If this sounds familiar, stop and take a moment to reflect; something you probably haven’t had a chance to do much of if you’ve been working non-stop throughout the pandemic. Reflect on all that you have accomplished in your career so far and realise that your success is down to you – no one else. Write down your accomplishments and what you’re proud of and refer back to them when you need a confidence boost

2. Devise a career strategy

Detailing what you want to learn and where you want to go can give you a greater sense of ownership of your own development, ultimately putting the power in your hands – especially at a time when the world is so full of uncertainty, with many feeling a lack of control.

After all, this is your development and you’re the only one that can really drive it. If you’re feeling stuck because you’re not clear in your mind as to where you want to go or which routes are an option for you right now, creating this personal development strategy will help you crystallise your thoughts. Then, once you do have a plan, stick to it and break it down into manageable steps.

3. Commit to lifelong learning

Committing to adopting a growth mindset and your own lifelong learning, including staying up-to-date with trends and developments in your industry, will help you feel that you’re moving forward productively in your career, even if Covid-19 unfortunately means you may not be promoted as quickly as you’d like.

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As much of the world goes through continued lockdown and reopening cycles to help limit the spread of the virus over the coming months, you have a lot of options for upskilling even if you aren’t in the office all of the time. Those could include learning a new language or two, training or mentoring someone else, keeping an eye out for relevant webinars and podcasts, and accessing any training or development resources your employer offers.

The key thing is to keep your upskilling going even in these strange times, instead of leaving it on pause, which will only add to your feelings of being stuck in your job.

4. Reignite your passion

Take some time to reflect and think about what it is that you love about your job. But not only that, also ask yourself what your own personal purpose is.

One great way to summon up some of the old passion is to remind yourself why you took on your current job in the first place. Make sure you break out of your usual daily routine from time to time – perhaps shaking things up by volunteering for different task, learning a new skill or reading about new trends in your industry.

And if all else seems to fail, remind yourself that you’re far from the only person who’ll be struggling to regain their work mojo right now. These are bizarre and difficult times and a lot of people are more despondent about the situation than they’re necessarily letting on.

5. Look around for inspiration

Explore what experts or those you look up to are doing in their careers and how they got there. Expand your network to include those you aspire to be like and learn all you can from them. This will give you the motivation, inspiration and knowledge to really drive your career forward.

A great way to do this is to find a career mentor; a confidential adviser who can help you to overcome the challenges that may currently be preventing you from achieving your longed-for professional goals.

6. Shape your personal brand

It’s important that as part of your personal ownership of your career development, you take steps to optimise your personal brand and perfect your online presence. This will position you as an expert in your field, and the very act of doing so will give you back an element of control, making you feel less stuck.

The development of a strong personal brand online is a gradual and multi-layered process, encompassing first steps such as Googling your name to see what the rest of the world currently sees and checking that your various social media profiles are consistent in how they represent you.

7. Be honest with your boss

If you feel stuck in a job with no progression in sight and you’re comfortable with the idea of having an open and honest conversation about it with your boss, then do so. Your manager’s role is to help you succeed, and they can only do that if they understand what your career goals are and what barriers or blockers you’re experiencing.

To help ensure you can plot the right path forward for your career as a result of these conversations, be sure to ask yourself certain questions in advance. Those might include what you do and don’t enjoy about your current role, how you see your role progressing in the coming years and what kind of work you would love to do in an ideal world.

8. Try not to overthink it

Your job and your professional development absolutely should be part of your focus. Of course, your career deserves careful consideration and should occupy your thoughts – to an extent. If, however, your frustrations are consuming your mind, then it’s time to find some more balance and focus on other aspects of your life. This will help you gain some perspective and ultimately take the most effective approach to alleviating those feelings of being stuck in your job with no way forward.

So, pick back up a once-loved hobby, spend time doing the things you enjoy and make sure you’re getting enough rest – instead of working unhealthily long hours in a desperate need to prove yourself or pull yourself out of your rut.

By Chris Dottie

Chris Dottie is managing director at Hays Spain. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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