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What to do when your career goes stale

Ever feel like you’re going nowhere? Everyone’s career at one stage or another gets stuck in a rut. Sometimes this just means you need a holiday or a new project to sink your teeth into. But if your career has completely flatlined, it may mean something more dramatic is in order, such as a career change.

1. Seek out inspiration.

Start by looking for career inspiration from those who know best. Seek out a friend and have a constructive conversation about your career direction. Talk to people who are in careers you find interesting and ask about their day-to-day experience, and what they find challenging and rewarding. Get onto LinkedIn and explore the incredible range of jobs that people have and the cool companies you might want to work for.

2. Take a break.

When you’re unhappy at work you can descend into negativity and start to believe there’s no way out. If that’s where you’re at, it’s time to get some perspective away from the office. Even if just a few days, use this time to reflect on what is bothering you and sort through thoughts. You can also consider what you want and develop a few solutions to resolve immediate problems.

3. Talk to your manager.

Any good manager will be keen to discuss your situation if you’re unhappy at work. The trick is to not descend into complaints and vague or emotional statements. Remember: there’s nothing your manager can do about how you feel about your job, but they can help you with potential new opportunities. Be positive, objective and specific. Ask for advice and be honest. Be prepared for the fact your manager may not be able to change things for you immediately, though.

4. Switch jobs.

It sounds obvious because it is. If you’re unhappy, change jobs. You might find that doing a similar job in a new company is the breath of fresh air you need. Perhaps you don’t need a dramatic career change to a new industry, you just need a new situation.

5. Volunteer for a new perspective.

If you know you’re ready for a big change, put your hand up for an internship or a small amount of (good quality) volunteer time. Getting a taste of an industry could solidify your decision to change career. For example, if you’re interested in working in events, look for opportunities to help at an upcoming festival. If you’ve always wondered about being a vet, volunteer at a local shelter. Just being near the roles you’re contemplating will help you understand their realities. And if you explain you’re interested, you might get the opportunity to accumulate some basic skills to boost your CV.

6. Think positively, think laterally.

Think about different jobs you can do using transferable skills. People often transfer into roles they are not fully qualified for because they have special experience that workplace values. For example, if you’re a school teacher, could your skills be used to for corporate training sessions or in government education policy? Think laterally about all the places your background could take you. Don’t ever dismiss a job because you can’t fill all of the selection criteria – you might be just what that company is looking for.

7. Go back to uni.

You may need to broaden your knowledge and earn qualifications for your new career. If you require a degree or some other form of higher education, remember to start slowly. Take one or two subjects, and use this taste of the subject matter to reaffirm this is the right choice for you. If you’re still in your old career, and can somehow tie these qualifications back to your old job, you may even be able to convince your employer to help with the education bills.

Take the shortcut to fast track your career. Explore Deakin’s courses and start studying in July or November.

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