Careers

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Up or out? Here's what to do when your career stalls.
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track
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7 min read
This story originally appeared on GOBankingRates

If the start of your work week has you feeling nauseated and counting how much sick time you have left, it might not be a flu bug that has your stomach churning. The chronic stress of feeling like your career is stagnant can stir up both physical and emotional symptoms, making it a chore to drag yourself through your workday.

Related: Steal These 10 Awesome Life Hacks From Elon Musk

The solution can be as simple as getting a new position that challenges and excites you and offers the potential for long-term growth and advancement. GOBankingRates spoke with professional development coach Molly Hetrick to gain insight into how to breathe new life into a stalled career.

Learn how to decide whether to look for a new job or ask for a raise.

(By Jodi Thornton-O'Connell)

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Evaluate the company you work for.

Evaluate the company you work for.
Image credit: Shutterstock

Although your career might feel stalled in your present position, you might not have to look outside your current company when finding a new career. As a first step, Hetrick advises asking yourself two questions about your employer to determine whether you should stay or go:

Is your company on solid financial footing? Even if you’re not a whiz at reading financial statements, there are telltale signs that a company might be struggling financially. A drop in business, hiring freezes, not replacing workers who quit and major changes in the company’s vision are some clues that sticking around might mean your career possibilities are limited at best.

Do you believe in the company’s mission? If you’re not already familiar with your company’s mission statement, look for it on the company website or in the employee handbook, along with that of any parent company of which it is a subsidiary. If the overall mission doesn’t resonate, it might be time to find a company that’s a better fit.

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Evaluate your fit in the company.

Evaluate your fit in the company.
Image credit: Shutterstock

If your company is on strong financial footing and has a mission that aligns with your personal career philosophy, your next step is to determine whether you have a future with the company. Hetrick advises asking yourself these next two questions to evaluate your growth potential:

Are there existing positions within the company that you can see yourself in and that you can aspire to? Your company’s job listings page is the best place to find other positions that you’d like to steer your career toward. Other websites will even help match your present skills and education to jobs that are an ideal fit, like Edward Jones’ quiz-like Career Fit Tool or Metaswitch’s Career Brain Teasers.

Will your company provide professional development training, mentorship or coaching to help you get to the next level? Find out if your company offers training classes or tuition reimbursement programs to help employees advance in their careers. If there aren’t any, it may be time to look for a job elsewhere.

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Determine the requirements needed to advance.

Determine the requirements needed to advance.
Image credit: Shutterstock

“Identify the skills and knowledge you need for the position you aspire [to],” said Hetrick. “For each, list a few ways you could obtain that skill or knowledge.” The answer might be signing up for company-sponsored training, or developing new skills by taking on a new assignment in your present position. Focus on learning how to ask for a promotion as one of your new skills -- these are important work skills that money can’t buy.

Related: The First Thing These Famous and Successful People Do Every Morning

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Talk to your boss.

Talk to your boss.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Your boss can be one of the best resources for giving advice on how to get promoted. “Share your roadmap and ask your boss how she can help you get there,” advises Hetrick. “The more specific you are, the easier it will be for others to help you find opportunities.” Let your boss know that you’re ready to take on more challenging tasks to help develop your skills. “Taking on challenging assignments is a way to explore different types of work, gain exposure and test out your capabilities,” said Hetrick.
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Network within your company.

Network within your company.
Image credit: Shutterstock
After speaking with your boss, Hetrick advises broadening your exposure within your company by building relationships with colleagues in different parts of your company. Your boss might be willing to make introductions to department managers in your field of interest. Look for interdepartmental projects that you can work on and expand your circle of contacts. Make it a point to attend company events such as parties, social hours and charity projects. 
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Don’t burn any bridges.

Don’t burn any bridges.
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Discretion may be the better part of valor, according to the old adage, but it’s also the best way to make an exit should you decide getting your career back on track means finding a new company. Don’t complain to other co-workers about your boss, job situation or other reason for a job change. Show up in professional attire and maintain a positive, professional attitude on the job. “Be discreet in your job search and don’t burn bridges with your current employer,” said Hetrick. “Continue to do excellent work as you may need them as a reference now or in the future.”
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Identify alternate companies.

Identify alternate companies.
Image credit: Shutterstock

If finding a new career means changing companies, make a list of 5-10 companies that you’d potentially like to work for. “Get to know them through their web presence, news releases, etc.,” said Hetrick. “If you have contacts at any of these companies, that will be a big plus.” Begin searching those company’s job boards for positions that you might be able to move into now, as well as keeping an eye open for long-term career path opportunities where you can advance in the future.

Related: How to Set Career and Financial Goals You'll Actually Achieve

10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Go online

Go online
Image credit: Shutterstock
Hearing about potential openings in one of your target companies from someone who works there is one of the best ways to land a new position, but don’t ignore online job postings. “Sign up at a job search site like Indeed.com,” said Hetrick. Check out the top job boards for your skill set and post your resume there. Update your resume weekly -- some boards show recruiters the last time you freshened it. Finally, sign up to receive daily emails with jobs that match your criteria. 
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Tweak your resume.

Tweak your resume.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Just like office fashion changes over time, so do resumes. Although basic guidelines like easy-to-read typefaces, one-inch margins and a maximum length of one page still apply, the best resumes for 2018 also contain a link to your personal branding website, career objective statement and a resume summary. “Make sure that it is up to date, listing relevant accomplishments, quantified if possible,” advised Hetrick. “Ensure your resume clearly shows the type of position you are seeking, represents you honestly and shows progressive responsibility.”
10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track

Reach out to your network.

Reach out to your network.
Image credit: Moopixel | Shutterstock
Keep in touch with your professional contacts, particularly those in the companies you’re targeting, advises Hetrick. “It is always beneficial to be referred by someone within the company.” Social media networking such as LinkedIn or business groups on Facebook offer more ways to develop contacts that can help get your career on the right track.
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  • 10 Steps to Help Get Your Career Back on Track
  • 1. Evaluate the company you work for.
  • 2. Evaluate your fit in the company.
  • 3. Determine the requirements needed to advance.
  • 4. Talk to your boss.
  • 5. Network within your company.
  • 6. Don’t burn any bridges.
  • 7. Identify alternate companies.
  • 8. Go online
  • 9. Tweak your resume.
  • 10. Reach out to your network.
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