A frustrated man sitting in an office in front of a laptop pinching the bridge of his nose. He has been in his job too long.
Image: © bernardbodo/Stock.adobe.com

Have you been in your job too long?

16 Jan 2019

Building up your experience in one job can benefit your career but it’s a fine line. Hays’ Marc Burrage is here to tell you if you’re in a job too long.

Staying in the same company can be very comfortable. You know everyone, you know how everything works, you don’t have many challenges to deal with – but do you ever get the feeling that something is missing? You could be letting opportunities pass you by and damaging your long-term career prospects in the process. It’s important to take control of your career progression.

There’s no simple rule that tells you if you’ve been in your job too long, but any job deserving of your time should be fulfilling and provide you with ongoing opportunities to learn and expand your skillset.

If you’ve moved through different positions as a result of promotion, having held them all at the same company won’t set you back. But if you’ve been in the same position for 10 years, it could be a different story.

If this sounds familiar and if your work no longer inspires you, it could be time to look for something new. Do these eight signs that you’ve been in your job too long sound familiar?

1. You’ve lost your love for the job and the company

Without really thinking about it, you’ve stopped making an effort, and you’re turning in work that you know is not your best. You used to take pride in your work and now you just don’t feel that way about it any more. It has become routine and boring.

2. You could do your job in your sleep

Your working life just isn’t supplying you with any challenges and, although this might have felt great at first, you now realise that you miss them. Nothing in your working day is stimulating your intellect and you feel disappointed by the ease with which you can get away with hardly trying.

3. You feel you don’t fit in, you’re less sociable and your colleagues bore you

If office socialising once used to be fun, it isn’t any more. You can’t be bothered getting to know new people. You keep conversations as short and impersonal as possible, and don’t interact with colleagues once the working day is over.

4. You’re clock-watching and hate Mondays

You arrive promptly at the start of the working day and leave immediately when it ends, keeping careful track of each break in between and making sure they never get cut short. You count the days until holidays, even if they’re only a couple of days long.

5. You feel left out of meetings and projects

Sometimes you feel as if no one at work really notices you’re there. You don’t get asked for your opinions and no one treats you as if you have anything to contribute beyond your day-to-day work. People you feel are less qualified than you often seem to get picked first.

6. You feel you’re being overlooked for promotion

Younger or less talented people always seem to get chosen before you. You don’t feel that you get a fair degree of praise for the work you do and you never seem to be singled out for bonuses. It’s years since you were last Employee of the Month, even though you’re in a small team.

7. You’ve stopped believing in your company

When you first started out, you were passionate about what your company did or how it did it, but you feel this passion is waning. You feel disillusioned and don’t think senior staff care about the company the way you once did. You feel that it has lost its way, is betraying former ideals or is simply mediocre.

8. You envy former colleagues who have resigned

Perhaps you tell yourself you’re not talented or brave enough to do what they did but, even if they haven’t landed on their feet, you feel they’re better off out of the company you still work for. You keep thinking about the new opportunities open to them that you’re missing out on.

If any of these signs apply to you, you may now be asking yourself what you should do about it. Re-entering the jobs market after a long time is a daunting prospect. These simple steps can help.

Update your CV

When you’ve been in one job for a long time, you need to explain that you haven’t just been doing one thing. Focus on the skills you’ve developed and the achievements you made in that role. Write about projects you worked on and arrange what you write in an order that shows you’ve made progress.

Prepare for interview

There are three things you will need to tackle as quickly and as firmly as possible. Firstly, you will need to explain in positive terms why you were in one place for so long. You will also need to reassure the interviewer that your skills are up to date. Then, show that you have what it takes to integrate into a new business culture. If you’ve recently developed new hobbies or done volunteer work, that can help to show that you’re still flexible.

Contact a recruiter

You could spend all your working hours looking through job adverts on your own, but a skilled recruiter will be able to look at your CV and instantly match you up with suitable positions. After that, it’s up to you. There are no guarantees, but you could be about to find yourself in a job that really makes you feel alive.

By Marc Burrage

Marc Burrage is the managing director for Hays Poland as of September 2019.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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