We had a conversation last week with someone who feels like she’s wasting time in her career. She made a move, taking a job that she thought was going to be the right role for her. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s below her skill level and her capabilities. As a result, she’s feeling bored and discouraged – like she’s missing out on the prime of her career.
This kind of bad move can happen to anyone.
Maybe you’re jumping out of a bad job and grabbing at the first thing that comes along. Or you’re moving to a new industry or a different field, so you’re not sure how the levels translate. Or maybe the company misrepresented the role. Whatever the circumstance, being underemployed can be a big disappointment. You were excited for the new opportunity, but it doesn’t measure up. Instead of growing, learning, and developing, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
And because you just made the move, you feel stuck. Moving too soon or too often can look bad on your resume. That means you probably need to stay for 12 – 18 months. That can feel like a huge waste of time – not only in your daily life, but also in terms of your future prospects. Being in a holding pattern means your salary growth and future promotions are also delayed. It can feel like your whole career trajectory is off-track. Like you’re not living up to your potential.
Luckily, there are ways to turn your lemon of a job into lemonade.
First, when you’re not getting what you want from your current role, it’s time to focus on building your network outside your current company. In some ways, the best time to network is when you don’t want anything from anyone. So, take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues, classmates, and friends. As you talk with them, be listening for inspiration. Learn what you can about your new industry or field. See what you can discover about the kinds of roles you might want and about the companies that appeal to you. Uncover what you can about the cultures of those companies and what it’s like to work there. The information you gather from these conversations will be invaluable in finding the next role that will set you up for long-term success. If you’re uncertain about how to go about asking for these conversations, or what to ask when you’re in them, consider working with a coach. Be sure it’s someone who understands corporate culture and has a strategy to help you have the conversations that will get you the information you’re seeking.
Second, in parallel, be on the lookout for ways to leverage your current role for future opportunities. Find committees, affinity groups, or projects to join where you can build relationships with peers and leaders outside your particular team. That will help you find out what it’s like to work in other parts of the company. Even better if these extra projects include assignments that expand your skill set. The combination of relationships and skills can help set you up for your next promotion.
So even if you’re staying put for another 12 – 18 months, your career doesn’t have to be stalled.
These strategies take some time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be onerous, especially if you have a clear strategy and game plan for them. That’s what a good coach can help you map out. Just be sure you find a coach who can help you with both sides of the equation – making the most of your current role, while you’re looking for what’s next.
Finally, you’ll need to have a clear story about your career progression and where you want to go that puts your current role in context, so it doesn’t continue to drag you down. This is another piece that a coach can help you with.
If this resonates with you and you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels, my team and I would love to help. There are still a few weeks left in December – plenty of time to get in motion, so you can start the new year already on your way to that next chapter in your career. Book your call with us today.
Here’s a video if you prefer to watch and listen to me talk about this topic: