Stuck in a rut

I’m in a career rut and I need to make a change. I don’t know what I want to do, but I know it’s not this.


This reminds me of a conversation I was just having with a good friend of mine who is a design engineer. He mentioned that he had a part that just wasn’t working right in the current design. He was about to throw the part away when he suddenly realized that if he made a couple of slight modifications and change the angle where it sat in relation to the rest of the design, it would be perfect.

Sometimes a job can be the same thing. We just need to make a few minor adjustments to our current position so it aligns with our talents and abilities more precisely. I encourage you to take an objective look at your current situation. What brought you to first accept the position? Is there anything that you enjoy about it? What aspects of the job are causing you frustration and unhappiness? If there are just a few problems that are really getting in the way of you enjoying your position, consider talking with your supervisor about your frustrations and see if the two of you can come up with a wise solution on ways to resolve these issues. Sometimes a simple modification is all that is required and it can result in a tremendous improvement in how we feel about things. A good company will want to work with you to find a better fit because when you’re happy and excited about the work you’re doing, you’re more likely to produce good work and further the success of the entire business.


Getting started.

What if your unhappiness in your job goes beyond the improvements a few minor adjustments can make? This is bound to happen at some point in time as you progress along your career journey … you land in a job that just doesn’t fit you, it’s a dead-end job, or the environment is too toxic to continue. If you’re unable to make changes to improve the situation, then a job change is inevitable; it’s time to make a change.

Start by taking a look at yourself; what are you looking for in your career? What type of work do you most enjoy and are most interested in performing each day?  What do you most value in your career? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, the Kuder assessments will help you gain a clearer understanding of your current interests, skills, work-related values. All of this information will help you to know yourself better, which is essential because doing so gives you the solid footing you need to know where you’re going. By reaching out to a career coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. A career coach who will help you identify occupations that would be a good fit for you, set goals to reach your career objectives, and support and encourage you along the way.


Update your resume and social networking accounts.

Alright, so updating your resume is an obvious assignment for anyone who is starting a job search. But how about your social media connections? Many of us out there aren’t using social media sites as effectively as we could in our hunt for the right job. Sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, and others are tools to help you connect with hiring professionals and job opportunities through the professional connections you’ve already made. (Even Pinterest, Twitter, and Craigslist have features to help you find your next job.) Most people find their next position by networking these established channels. If you don’t already have an online social media account, consider getting one (I suggest LinkedIn). Share your employment experiences in a story type format, upload your resume, and start reaching out to professionals you already know in your field of interest. Let your connections know that you’re looking for a new job and ask if they know of any openings. If you don’t care who knows that you’re looking, consider changing your “headline” statement to let everyone know that you’re “seeking a position as a ____________.”  Use these social media tools to get the word out because the more people that know you are looking, the more likely it is that you’ll find that connection to open the doors to your next career adventure.


Prepare for Interviews.

To prepare for your interview, first do your homework. Research the company: what are its mission, vision, history, and projections for the future? Look up their products and learn as much as you can. Ask a friend to stage a mock interview with you to practice for your big day. You can find the most common interview questions easily with a simple Internet search. As you’re answering these questions, keep the job description of the position to which you’re applying top of mind. Think about examples from your past that demonstrate the qualities and skills that this organization is looking for to best fulfill the job opening. For example, if it’s a management position, think about times that you motivated your staff to accomplish a challenging project, your ability to identify strengths in others, and instances when you placed staff in positions in projects that complemented their unique skillsets. The more readily you can recall examples from your past, the more relaxed you’ll be when you’re asked these same questions during your interview.


Practice interviewing.

After a phone interview with human resources, you will be asked to come in for an in-person interview. During this interview, the interviewer is trying to determine what you know and if you will be a good fit. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with a firm handshake, good eye contact, and a welcoming smile. Your clothing should be clean, pressed, and appropriate to the position for which you’re applying. Before your interview, try on your interviewing outfit and wear it around a bit to make sure you feel comfortable. You don’t want to find out about an outfit snag (no longer fits, rip in your seat, or a broken shoe strap/heel) on the day of your interview, so give it a test drive. Practice the drive to the interview location a couple of days before your interview. Find a good place to park and identify where you’ll need to enter the building. Little steps such as this can take a great deal of pressure off of you on your interview day. It’s an awful feeling to be lost and late on your interview day. You don’t want to arrive sweating, stressed, and red-faced! On the big day, arrive five to eight minutes early and remember to turn off your cell phone. It’s only going to be for a few hours, so the world can wait until you finish this interview!


Follow through.

After the interview, send a thank-you card to the person that interviewed you for the position, and the human resources representative who helped coordinate the meeting. Be sure to keep it short, but bring up any highlights from the interview. Ideally, you will mail your thank-you cards as soon as you complete the interview. Emails are also acceptable, but I personally prefer the handwritten thank-you note. This shows that you’re willing to go the extra step, and that you’re good with following through and completing tasks.


Changing careers is a big decision, but if it’s time for you to move on, I hope these tips will help make this transition a smooth one for you, and one that leads to a more fulfilling life in the future. I wish you the very best!

  1. career coaching
  2. career transitions

About The Author

Beth Wingert

Beth Wingert serves as a career coach and professional development instructor for Kuder. She is a Global Career Development Facilitator–Instructor and a Certified Career Advisor™.