5 ways to get your career out of neutral

Imagine looking around your favourite room, feeling that it has become a little bit drab and that something needs doing to make it feel more alive.  But what to do?  A new set of curtains? New cushions?  Or, perhaps a totally new makeover is in order? And what sort of budget would be available for such an endeavour?

Sometimes the same happens to our careers. They too can start feeling drab or in neutral. Just like our favourite room, an upgrade or makeover becomes necessary. And just like the redecorating budget, the next step would be to calculate what we are able to expend to re-ignite our careers.

A career in neutral

Two people working in the same job at the same time may not regard their career in the same manner. One might be feeling motivated and accomplished, while the other might be feeling stuck in a rut - work has become a source of fatigue, demotivation, and overall dissatisfaction.  

A career in neutral is devoid of the gratitude a fulfilled worker would feel when thinking about work. Gratitude at work is important because it focuses on what there is and not on what there isn’t. When the latter happens, it eventually comes with the realisation that our work identity needs a change.  

The next step is then to see what kind of change and what investment we are prepared to make to achieve our desired goal.

From neutral to what?

When we finally feel that we can’t continue in neutral careerwise, the next step is to search for the right path to change course. The crossroads will generally present us with 3 forks to choose from:

1. Planned internal – this equates to the new curtains and cushions change. Change is sought internally within the same organisation.

2. Planned external – this is bolder. Change is sought outside the organisation.

When different possibilities internally are improbable, the search for new opportunities goes beyond. To continue with the analogy, we’ve decided to strip the room bare, so we’re going to consult an interior designer to discuss what a new makeover would look like.

3. Blind destination - This is the least financially smart path and more in line with a career in crisis (rather than neutral) because it translates to an immediate resignation without any firm plan of what to do next.

Investing to kickstart a career stuck in neutral

Irrespective of which fork is chosen, the following are some actionable steps to follow when one’s career is stuck in neutral:

a)      Think where you’d like to be in one or two years' time. This will enable you to prepare for your next career move with more clarity of purpose.  Look around your own organisation. Is there a different area you’d like to branch into, or a promotion that you would like to secure?  Or are you after a title that will be difficult to attain by staying in the same job?

b)      Set goals. If there is a particular position that you strongly desire, how are you going to break it down so that it becomes an achievable goal? And what is the timeline you are going to allocate to achieve this goal? Some positions will be easier to attain, others will require more time. 

c)       Start networking. This is important. Sometimes it is not just what you know but the social contacts that you cultivate.  Networking can happen in a myriad of ways such as joining an internal working group, finding a mentor, and doing voluntary or part-time work in the chosen field.

d)      Check if you have the necessary skills. Some jobs require certification just to enable submission of an application or a CV.  There may also be specific skills relevant to the chosen job that you will need to learn. Time is a crucial factor when considering the additional learning that needs to be done. Not only does the length of a course have to be factored in, but also the time to attend lectures and do the required assignments on top of holding on to your current job, and juggling all with your personal life.

e)      Calculate the financial cost. If you are going to go for a job that requires further studying or an initial pay cut, you need to see if you can financially support yourself during the transition. Some organisations pay, or part-fund for their workers to upskill themselves, and there are also some incentives in Malta that can result in funding or a rebate towards the cost of further studying

Follow these strategies and your career could very well go from neutral to WOW again...

If you're looking for that WOW factor, search with us at Ceek! We aim to place our candidates in roles that match their ambitions and values, as well as skills, experience, and qualifications. If you're an employer looking for your next star candidate in Malta, get in touch with us here at Ceek!