Nothing is worse than noticing the signs your career is going nowhere. Most of us want a career that offers a good work-life balance and a position that provides us with fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment. For the most part, we all wish to be valued and appreciated for our work. Though it is unrealistic to expect this in a career all of the time, it is important that you feel happy in your career and the organisation for which you work.
However, if you're counting down the hours and days until the weekend and feel like your career progression is limited, you could be stuck in a dead-end job.
If you need clarification on whether a change in jobs is required to progress your life or want further clarity over your decision to swap roles, explore our ten clear signs your career is going nowhere.
1. You’re feeling undervalued at work
We all appreciate a thank you or a pat on the back for our work; it can go a long way. But not receiving any praise or thanks for your hard work may indicate why your career is going nowhere.
As an employee, it's never a nice feeling when you're consistently producing great work, working more hours than you should and sacrificing your personal life for your career but then getting nothing in return from your organisation. Moreover, it can be demotivating when your line manager, boss or peers seemingly neglect to appreciate your contributions.
This sense of feeling undervalued has a longer-term impact. If your line manager doesn't appreciate you or your role, you may not be considered for more senior positions. This doesn't mean you're incapable of moving up the career ladder; it's more on your employer or manager, who has yet to notice that you're doing a great job in your current role.
If you've done everything you can to warrant some appreciation but feel undervalued at work, you should consider your career options and find a role where you are valued.
2. Your organisation offers no clear career progression
If your current employer offers no clear career progression, how will you improve yourself, increase your salary and ultimately progress in your life?
Whilst the timescales might differ from role to role, your employer should always make you aware of how you can advance within your organisation. For example, if you want to develop your career at your current company, your line manager should be able to articulate these plans. More importantly, they should be able to back you in your ambitions and support you on your journey to your desired destination.
Suppose your employer can't see your advancement pathway, is unwilling to discuss the matter or cannot provide further training and development, then you need to reconsider your position. No matter how big or small the organisation you work for is, there should always be clear career progression.
3. You’re not being listened to
If your role is not appreciated within the organisation, then it is unlikely that your suggestions or ideas will be listened to or actioned. Whilst you can't always expect every idea you put forward to be adopted, at the very least, your input into improving the business, the team and your career should always be listened to.
You may have approached your line manager, team leader or boss with ideas, but they never seem to come to fruition. If this is the case, ask them why.
Once you establish why you're not being listened to or you feel not being listened to is becoming a recurring theme, it may be time to search for a role where your voice will be heard.
4. Your motivation is declining
We all experience a lack of motivation from time to time. And many of the points in this article can be linked to a lack of motivation.
If your declining motivation is a temporary lull which everyone experiences from time to time, then a new work project or a holiday might help you get your motivation back. However, it could be time to move on if you see no improvement.
Unless you have proper support, it can be challenging to turn your motivations around when you begin to feel demotivated and stuck in a bit of a rut. If you've spoken to your employer about your lack of motivation or feel like there's nothing that will get you motivated, this is a good sign you need to spread your wings and find a new role.
5. The company’s growth has declined
Another reason to know when your career is going nowhere is when the company's performance begins to decline.
If sales stagnate, colleagues start to leave, or your industry is going through a quiet period, this may hinder your career opportunities. Of course, no one likes to see or be a part of a declining company, but when it affects your career, it may be time for you to consider your options.
Of course, loyalty is important, but there are times when you have to think of yourself and your career progression. If the long-term future of your company is not favourable, it might be time to look elsewhere for a new role.
6. You find yourself procrastinating
Like motivation, we all go through phases where we procrastinate at work - perhaps even more so with the option of remote working. However, if you constantly procrastinate, this could signify that your career is going nowhere.
Your procrastination may be due to something other than your lack of enjoyment within your role. It could be because you still need to adjust to remote working or to the normalities of working in the office. If you think this is the case, speak to your employer to try and find a solution.
However, suppose you or people within your workplace notice you need to pay more attention to your work, are missing career opportunities or failing to produce the expected work levels; there may be other underlying issues. If you know you're procrastinating because you've fallen out of love with your current role, then it's time for a change.
7. You’ve become complacent in your current position
This point ties in with our previous point and our section on motivation. Perhaps you've been in your current role for some time now, and you or other people have noticed a decline in your efforts, or you feel like you're running on a treadmill; then maybe it's time to rethink your current position.
You may feel like you're going through the motions, and opportunities that may have once interested you don't anymore. Perhaps you feel mentally checked out of your role after months of trying to be heard and asking for career progression, and now you're doing the bare minimum to get by.
Working to collect a wage at the end of the week or month is fine, but this often comes with complacency. Like procrastination and motivation, we all go through phases of complacency. However, if this phase has become more long-term and you've exhausted all your efforts to try and get out of your slump, something must change. Becoming complacent signifies that your career is going nowhere and you need a change.
8. You're constantly changing jobs
To counter our previous point, one sign that your career is going nowhere is that you struggle to stay in one place for long periods and constantly change jobs. However, switching jobs is not necessarily a negative, as long as you're always progressing, and various studies suggest we will have between 12-13 jobs in our lifetime.
Of course, if you're changing your entire career path by venturing into a different industry, then you may expect to fall back a step. However, issues arise when you continue to switch from job to job or go down different career paths without staying in one place for some time.
People often move from role to role because they don't enjoy the position, it wasn't what they expected it to be, or they don't feel like they fit in. If you typically spend up to six months in a role before moving on, you cannot expect career progression, and you may end up going backwards in your career.
It's not always the case that the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. So, when you land our next role, try and stick at it for a year or two before considering a change. In time you may settle into your role and realise it was a good move.
9. You lack belief and self-confidence
Whether you've just started a role at a new company or have been with your current employer for a number of years, a significant factor as to why your career isn't going anywhere may be because you lack belief and self-confidence.
Imposter syndrome and doubting yourself are typical human traits, but they shouldn't stop you from progressing in your career. Deep down, if you feel you've earned a promotion, then have the confidence to approach your employer about this. Of course, this is easier said than done, but if you genuinely want that career progression, you have to fight for it.
Similarly, if your employer has approached you about career progression opportunities but you need more confidence to take on the role, think of it like this. Why would your employer come to you with this opportunity? The answer is that they see potential in you and believe you would suit the role.
Ultimately, if your career is going nowhere, it's time you start to step out of your comfort zone and see what you're truly capable of achieving.
10. Your current role differs from your career goals
Finally, a simple but important point to note when your career is going nowhere is when your current role differs from your career goals.
If you're gaining no satisfaction from your current role and lack the drive and passion, then perhaps your current position isn't right for you. Of course, we all have different motivations and career objectives, but if your current role doesn't align with your goals and ultimately makes you unhappy, this is a clear sign to move on.
Taking the leap into another role is scary, and changing careers is tough, but if you truly think it will make you happier and grant you the career progression you need, then don't hesitate to make the jump to get what you really want.
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