How to Make the Most of a Dead-End Job

Has your job become too routine? Do you no longer feel challenged or inspired by your work? Have you tried and failed to get a promotion? If you lack career growth opportunities at your current organization, you are probably stuck in a dead-end job.

You’re not alone. According to a recent job satisfaction survey of 1,500 workers by The Conference Board, 63 percent of participants were unsatisfied with their options for professional growth. When you feel like you no longer have ways to achieve career advancement, you may develop dead-end job depression or work burnout.

However, there are ways you can take advantage of your situation while you look for a new position.

[See: 10 Tech Jobs That Make the Most Money.]

To take advantage of a dead-end job:

— Shift your work.

— Learn a new skill.

— Volunteer.

— Make a lateral move.

— Conduct informational interviews.

Shift your work.

Think about the top five things that would need to change at your current position to achieve more professional growth. Are there any steps you can take to make those shifts?

For example, if you think that your job is too easy, try tracking your hours. This can help you see how long it really takes you to accomplish each task you’re required to perform. You can figure out how to improve your efficiency and ensure you’re focusing your attention in the right areas.

If you’re no longer challenged, can you decrease your reliance on a skill you use frequently and take on tasks that require you to use a strength you enjoy more?

Learn a new skill.

To make the most of your current job, create a plan for obtaining the skills and experiences available at your organization that will help you in the future. Identify three things you can add to your skill arsenal and work toward developing those competencies right away to both feel more challenged now and be prepared later when it’s time to start searching for a new job.

Think about what skills could make you more effective in your industry and consider taking an online course or webinar to learn more about them. You could also learn about new technology and software your industry is using, even if you don’t currently use them in your position. This will enhance your career growth and make you more marketable if you decide to leave your job.

[See: 8 Careers for Creative People.]


Take advantage of your current situation to volunteer for tasks you don’t normally perform. For example, raise your hand for a project that is out of your comfort zone. Think about something new your company needs and come up with a plan to develop it. Identify company challenges and suggest a plan for making needed updates and improvements.

Look for opportunities to volunteer outside of work as well, somewhere that honors your personal values. How you feel personally impacts how you feel professionally, so it is important to work on both of these aspects.

Make a lateral move.

Even if you can’t get a promotion, you may be able to take on a different role at your current organization. If you enjoy working at your current organization, schedule a meeting with your boss or your HR department to discuss your long-term career goals and express your desire to transfer to a new role with more possibilities for advancement. The response you receive will help you determine if you need to look for a job elsewhere.

[See: Career Advice for Military Spouses and Other Accompanying Partners.]

Identify what fulfills you.

If you decide it’s time to move on, it’s important to identify what fulfills you before you start interviewing for a new job. This will give you more clarity during your job search and help you avoid taking another dead-end job.

Identify what success means to you and think about your career values and your ideal work environment. Write down a list of things you want to have in a job, considering what you like and dislike about your current or previous jobs and reflecting on your passions and interests.

You can also make good use of informational interviews before going on job interviews. An informational interview is a one-on-one conversation with someone who works in an industry or at a company that appeals to you. These will help you learn what job options are really like and whether they will offer more professional growth opportunities.

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How to Make the Most of a Dead-End Job originally appeared on

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