By Perminus Wainaina
Is your career stagnant?
What does career stagnation mean for you as a professional and what should you do about it?
Six years ago, John was looking for a job as a graphic designer. We helped him get a job with one of the leading media houses in the country.
Two months after he got the job, he sent us an email.
He was loving his new job, and his supervisors were pleased with his work.
The following year, he sent another email. He had been selected as the employer of the year, and other firms had tried recruiting him.
Earlier this month, we met with John. He asked if he could buy me coffee as we caught up over the years.
When I asked him how his job was, he frowned as he started narrating.
He is still at the media house. However, he no longer has the excitement for work.
He shared he no longer feels challenged. Everything is within manageable levels, in years, he hasn’t gotten a challenging task.
“Sometimes I leave work at midnight. There’s a lot of work, but none of it is exciting. I know not every angle of the job should be exciting, but the job had a thrill when I joined, now, it’s all one boring blur.” John said.
What John is going through is no unique.
When you’re looking for a job, you try looking at every opportunity in every sector. Before John got this job, he had been searching for two years with no success.
If you’ve been looking for a job for that long, you just might settle for any opportunity that lands your direction.
But what happens after you get the job? What next?
Most professionals will leave it at that. I have seen professionals who’ve worked for more than a decade in the same position –no additional tasks, no challenges, and no additional salary.
Is it worth it to stick in the same old job without growth?
As a popular saying goes, “We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.”
The only sure way to grow your career is by facing (and conquering) hardships.
What are two top signs that your career has stagnated, and what can you do about it?
1. You’re in the comfort zone at work
Do you feel like everything is under control? This could be a sign of stagnation.
When you’re new at a job, you want to learn everything. After some time though, you get to a point where you understand your scope of work.
At work, however, there are those enforceable circumstances.
For example, when your boss is out and he had a meeting scheduled. He could end up sending you to the meeting.
While this can be a bit stressful, you’re forced to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. For this example, you might have to learn how to make a business presentation.
If you’re in a comfort zone, it could mean you have little to learn about your position.
If you’re in such a situation, get out of your comfort zone by taking up a new role, seeking a promotion to a higher role, or getting a new job altogether.
When you’re challenged, you grow,
2. You’re bored at work
For John, he no longer got excited by his work. This is despite the fact he was busy.
It’s possible to be busy and bored at the same time.
Seeing you spend most of your awake time at work, it shouldn’t all be gloom. When deciding a job, you’re advised to go for something you like doing or are passionate about.
If you’re bored at your current position, it is likely due to career stagnation.
Excitement at work often comes with challenges. These challenges, however, force you to be creative and to think out of the box.
When you find yourself bored at work, pick up a new role –preferably a challenging one, or move entirely to a different role. This will help you learn new skills and challenge your mind as well –all while growing your career.
Ultimately, you have to realize career development is important to you as a professional. If you find that your career has stagnated, you need to take actionable steps to help you move to the next level of your career. Every so often, you need to sit down and evaluate where your career is, where you’d like it to be, and the steps you can take to get it there.
Perminus Wainaina is an experienced HR Practioner with over 15 years experience in executive recruitment and selection, training, performance management, and Kenyan labour laws.
He has consulted for firms such as Safaricom Sacco, Oxfam, Un Women, Pacis Insurance, Windsor Golf, Muthaiga Country Club, etc. Currently, he represents the private sector at KEBS in the HR standardization committee.