How To Get Over A Career Slump
We’ve all had those moments: The career you’ve worked and studied for isn’t satisfying anymore. You’re no longer challenged and feel the work you’re doing isn’t rewarding. Instead, you want to do something meaningful, something you’re passionate about, something that doesn’t have you waiting for the clock to tick over 5pm every day.
I’ve been through this a few times in my career, moving from a publishing sales role to cosmetic surgery consultant and now a social media manager. Career slumps can hit at any time and when a third of your life is spent at work, those same feelings can seep into other areas of your life.
So it’s time for a change – but what change? And how to go about it?
Here are some pointers that have helped me move from slump to satisfaction, whether it has been a move in the same industry, or finding a new industry altogether.
What are you working towards?
A career slump is the perfect time to take a step back and really think about where you are, where you want to go and what motivates you. You might roll your eyes at the concept of a ‘five-year plan’ but setting a goal can help provide direction when you’re unsure of what to do next.
If you want to work towards leadership and management, see if you can pick up those skills in your current job. If not, perhaps it’s time to move somewhere where there is a clear path and opportunity to develop those skills.
If you’re motivated by making an impact and helping others, perhaps you need to assess the goals of the organisation you’re in.
Still not sure what your career goals are? The next point should help.
Make a list
It’s a rare person who doesn’t like lists, so here’s your chance to bring pen to paper and jot down what you do and don’t like about your current job.
Do you like working with people or does the thought of another client meeting make you want to call in sick? Can you tolerate the workplace politics of a larger organisation, or do you thrive in smaller teams?
Having a list can help you filter through options and avoid ending up in a new job that has all the dreaded aspects of your current role.
Search job sites
With changes in technology, innovation and culture, there are jobs out there you didn’t even know existed, and positions you didn’t even know were options – like Food Stylist, Chief Listening Operator and Vibration Consultant.
Rachel Service, Career Coach and Founder of Happiness Concierge, confirms ‘we feel empowered when we have options and facts.’
So search across different and multiple job sites – Seek, LinkedIn, Scout, to name a few – with open search terms to see what opportunities there are in your area of interest.
You’d be surprised what you find and what sparks your interest. If all else fails, you can become a professional hugger.
When you’ve been at your job for a while, there’s often a work family you’re attached to, a culture you may enjoy and a dynamic that you’ve grown accustomed to. In these cases, a career slump doesn’t need to involve a full change, it might just mean finding opportunities to skill up and move around where you currently are.
Speak to a manager about what opportunities there are to upskill or about adding extra duties or responsibilities for a new or varied challenge. Another option is brainstorming ways to optimise processes or improve performance – whatever is relevant to the business and team– and discuss implementing these changes.
Even though a slump can be draining, re-channel some social energy and reach out to the team. Offer to help others and learn more about their roles, or if you’re needing a bigger change, look at exploring others teams and departments.
Reach out to connections
This is where LinkedIn is your best friend, and having an updated and active profile can help.
When you come across a company you’d like to work for, or a position is advertised that you’re interested in, see what first or second degree connections you may have, and reach out.
Introduce yourself, ask a question, build a connection. You never know what they have to say or where it may lead to.
When chatting to “career crushes”, Career Coach Rachel Service recommends to “talk about your situation positively so people can imagine introducing you to their boss or colleague for a coffee. Every conversation is an audition for a potential job … talk less about what doesn’t inspire you and talk more about what you want to do more of in future.”
Go to interviews
I know, I know. Interviews are the worst, and here I am suggesting that you go to MORE of them, for roles you aren’t even sure you want. But there are a number of benefits of going to interviews.
First of all, you get to practice your interview skills for when a role comes along that you are super keen on.
Secondly, it gives you the chance to learn more about a role, company or industry from the inside. See what day-to-day life would involve and if it’s somewhere you can picture yourself.
I know when I have made career transitions, there have been times where I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the options that I’ve turned down opportunities out of fear of making the ‘wrong decision’ and ending up somewhere that I didn’t like.
As much as we sometimes need it, a change can still feel daunting, but don’t let this fear cripple the decision. Be daring and try something new.
Worst case? If after a few months you find it’s not for you, quitting is not the end of the world. It’s another chance to find the career you’ll love.