Am I growing or am I stagnating? 6 ways to avoid a Dead-End Career

It’s common to fear change while clinging on to security. But choosing job security over positive professional change can often lead to a dead-end career.

This story is all too common in Liberia.

For most people, just having a job that pays the bill is good enough. And that may not necessarily be a bad thing. But there is a huge difference between being content with your current job and mediocrity. On the one hand, being content means that you set career goals, you achieve those goals, you are satisfied with the outcome of the goals and then you set new goals. Mediocrity on the other hand means thinking that what you have accomplished so far is the height of your success and there can’t be room for more.

I only begun to ponder this reality 3 months ago when 8 of my coworkers were suddenly though honorably retired. It was a very shocking and sad event. Sad because it was so abrupt and unexpected. I mean, I know people plan for their retirement and know when the day will be. But when your retirement day suddenly changes and the time becomes now, how do you respond?  The whole thing had me asking myself the questions “Am I growing or am I stagnanting” and “What am I going to do with my life?

This is why I felt that an article like this would be very important and beneficial.

How to recognize a dead-end job?

Perhaps your current job doesn’t challenge you anymore and you don’t feel like you have opportunities for professional growth. Perhaps you are constantly being passed over for promotions and higher responsibilities and your boss does not recognize or value your contributions anymore. Chances are, you are either in a dead-end job or heading towards a dead-end career.  Often, this would be the time to start thinking about changing your professional strategy or finding a new job.

I’ve heard stories of people being retired from 25 years of active service at 45 years old with no professional accomplishment and no plan of what they will do next. I have also heard stories of  young professionals being let-go from their jobs because their position became “redundant”. I personally think that the problem started long before they became redundant or reached the retirement year. I think they ignored all of the signs indicating that they were in dead-end jobs.

A dead-end job is quite different from a career plateau. Hitting a plateau in your career means that your drive towards accomplishing your career goals flattens out. This stage in itself is not bad as it offers you the chance to reflect on your career journey and make decisions on what your next move will be. A dead-end job on the other hand is one in which you literally have no opportunity for professional growth or advancement.

Staying too long in a dead-end job can eventually lead to a dead-end career – finding yourself being retired at 45 with no career plan.

How to avoid a dead-end job?

Below are 6 tips I have compiled to help you avoid getting trapped in a dead-end job.

1. Do market research before selecting a college major/job

The only way to get good answers is to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions about everything will help you make informed decisions. Talk to people doing jobs that you would like to do, ask friends studying the same major you’d like to take. Make sure you understand the nature of  the job/major and what would be required of you in order to succeed. When I entered university, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. My Mom suggested I study Sociology since I couldn’t figure out what to study. Looking back now, I can see that it was a good choice as it has helped shape my career path thus far. I probably would not have selected Sociology had she not made the suggestion along with reasons why she’d thought it’d be a good fit for me.

2. Have a career vision

You have to know where you are going in other to get there. A career vision is a statement of what you hope to accomplish in your career. Having a career vision that highlights your values will help you recognize when a job does not align with or push you towards accomplishing your career goals. If you have not developed a career vision or plan, click here to develop one today.

3. Don’t be motivated by job security or salary 

Don’t be fooled by job security or consistent paychecks, it’s a dead-end career trap. Always aim for jobs that are closer to your values and career vision. The further away your job is from your career vision, the more miserable you will be and it’s only a matter of time before you hit a dead-end. Instead, learn to take calculated career risks that will push you to another level. Apply for that scholarship if you think the added knowledge will make you more productive.

4. Build your skills and reputation 

“The road to mastery requires patience. You will have to keep your focus on five or ten years down the road, when you will reap the rewards of your efforts… In the end, the money and success that truly last come not to those who focus on such things as goals, but rather to those who focus on mastery and fulfilling their Life’s Task.”
Robert Greene

They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. If that is so, how long do you think it will take you to reach the peak of your career? Developing a career that will not hit a dead-end in a few years, requires time, commitment, and constant practice. Instead of chasing financial gains or settling on security, focus on fulfilling the career vision you have developed for yourself.

5. Work with a mentor or emulate a role-model

If you work hard and remain persistent you will eventually accomplish your career goals. But having a mentor or following a role-model will get you there a lot faster. A mentor who shares your values will help you access invaluable information that will positively benefit your career. Emulating a role-model doing what you aspire to do will help you make decisions that will propel your career.

6. Build quality networks

Invest your energy in building networks. Networking helps you expand your knowledge base and gives you freedom to express your ideas, exposes you to new opportunities, makes you more visible and helps you influence positive change. There are so many different ways to network. Both social gatherings and social media exchanges are great networking tools. Having quality network means having access to information that can help you maneuver out of a dead-end career path and into a thriving upward career path.

The worst thing that could possibly happen to a professional person is, knowing how much potential you have to excel but finding yourself stuck in a dead-end job. Don’t let it happen to you, try using these 6 tips to help you maneuver out of a seemingly hopeless career downturn. Lions and Tigers are scary and deadly, that’s true. But what’s even scarier and more deadly is getting stuck in a dead-end career, yikes!

If you found this article useful, please leave a comment below.

Published by Ade Suah

Hello and welcome to my site. My name is Christollie Ade Suah and I am a full time Mom, working a full time job and running a small business full time. With so much to do and so little time to do them, I constantly find myself struggling to balance different aspects of my life. So I created this blog as a resource center where health conscious professionals like me can find information and tools to help them balance competing priorities and achieve their goals. This blog covers topics around health and wellness, business, career and parenthood. My goal is to inspire you into taking actions daily that'll improve your life. If you would like to join a network of health conscious people and get notified of new content and products, click the subscribe button below. Thank you for visiting and look forward to growing with you.

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