How to Recognize You’re In a Dead End Job and Plot Your Exit Strategy

You may have outgrown your current position. Here’s how to plot your exit strategy and get your career back on track.

There are many reasons you might be fed up with your job.

You might hate your boss. 

You might keep getting passed over for promotions. 

You might feel your job duties are beneath you.

To determine whether your career has hit a dead-end – or at least a crossroads – don’t get caught up in the emotion of a temporary setback. Instead, consider what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish in your career and ask yourself if your current job offers that opportunity, says Marsha Haygood, president of StepWise Associates, a career consulting firm based in Yonkers, NY. 

If it doesn’t, you may have outgrown your current position. Here’s how to plot your exit strategy and get your career back on track. 

Determine the job you want. Before you can find the right job, you have to know exactly what you want. For example, ask yourself, what is another company going to offer me that I’m not getting right now? Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, research five to 10 companies that you think can meet your goals, Haygood advises. Find out their mission, the types of jobs they’ve offered in the past, and even who their competition is, Haygood adds. 

Begin expanding your network. If there’s no one in your network who is currently doing what you want to do, “your network is too small,” says Haygood. Identify people who work at target companies by using social media networks such as LinkedIn. Look for mixers, conferences and other events where you can meet these people not under the guise of looking for a job, but rather as an opportunity to learn more about the field.  Share your career goals with friends and family members because they may know someone who can help you. 

Minimize your fears. Many people are paralyzed from leaving a job that limits them because of financial concerns and other fears. Look for ways to make the move less scary. For example, if you’re afraid you’ll have to take a financial hit to get your dream job, look for ways to cut your expenses or stash some cash beforehand so the fear begins to subside, Haygood says.

Use your current job to your advantage. While you’re plotting your next move, see how you can capitalize on your current job. For example, your company’s reputation may get you a meeting with a valuable contact or your firm may pay for you to get a type of training that could aid in your job search. 

Send resumes and contact search professionals. Enlist the help of a resume writer if you’re not comfortable with your resume-writing skills. Also consider executive search firms that can help you identify opportunities.

Keep it professional. Once you find your next opportunity, be cordial and express gratitude to your current company for the opportunity. You never know when you’ll meet someone again or if someone you currently work with knows someone in your new organization, Haygood warns. “You don’t have to like the people you work with, but you can still leave on a good note.”

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