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3 Ways to Tell If You’re in a Dead-End Job (and How to Fix It)


It’s the one place we don’t want to wind up in our careers: at a dead end. Whether it’s because there’s no chance of promotion at your current company or no way to learn new skills at your present job, working at a dead-end gig is a surefire way to get a case of career blues. But before you can fix the problem, you need to recognize what’s happening.

That’s where the crew at HR Bartender come in. In a recent post, Sharlyn Lauby asked experts Hannah Morgan (of Career Sherpa) and Ron Thomas (of Buck Consultants and Harvard Business Review) for their take on the issue.

Morgan offered these examples of situations that might indicate a dead-end job:

1. The person ahead of you has been stuck at his job a long time.

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2. The company discourages you from trying new things or learning skills, and instead just wants you to do your job — no more, no less.

3. You’re getting passed over for promotions on a consistent basis, for any reason.

Whatever the situation, the solution comes down to a choice: should you stay or should you go? That depends on whether you think you can change your circumstances or not. If you think the issue is one of perception — either yours or your boss’s — you can work to either reframe your situation or rehabilitate your image.

Failing that, you can look for another job, but the old advice still stands: it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.

“Unless you have the financial backing to walk out, I would suggest you stay put till you have another opportunity,” says Thomas. “That’s a lot easier to explain during an interview than trying to build a narrative around ‘I got so fed up that I walked out.’ As an interviewer, my thought would be if we hired them and they got upset, would they just walk out again?”

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(Photo Credit: Speaking Latino/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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