Advancing Your Career In a Position that Doesn’t Fit

Advancing Your Career In a Position that Doesn’t Fit - Employee Engagement

If you’re not excited by your job, you’re not alone. In a recent international survey, Gallup found that 66 percent of employees were disengaged at work. Though these workers may not hate their positions, their lack of engagement is a problem – both for them and for their companies.

Gallup argues that “engaged employees produce better business outcomes than do other employees across industry, across company size and nationality, and in good economic times and bad.” What’s more, many senior-level executives reported that employee engagement was highly important to them, but only about one in three of them thought their employees were engaged.

There are many reasons you may feel disengaged at work. Perhaps you don’t support your company’s mission or don’t fit in with the culture. Maybe your manager is negative, and they don’t want to help you grow.

Certainly, it’s easy to use your lack of interest as a way to completely disconnect from your workplace. Perhaps you’re even searching for another job. But in the meantime, you don’t want to develop detached or negative behaviors that may follow you to your next place of employment. Besides, you can use information from this negative experience to help you find a better position the next time.

So, how can you advance your career in a position you don’t want? Here, we’ll share our best advice.

Practice your relationship-building skills

Even if you don’t get along with your manager or fit into the company culture, you can still practice building your networking skills in your position. Connect with others outside of your department to see what you can learn from them. Or develop a mutually-beneficial relationship with a peer or colleague.

Even if these relationships don’t yield another job, they will help you build valuable networking skills – and potentially even feel more engaged with your job. One of your connections may even be able to help you find another position – in your current organization or elsewhere.

Identify the tasks in your job that align with your passions

If some aspects of a current position don’t fit what we want, it can be easy to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. We can start disengaging even with the facets of the role that are exciting.

So, start identifying what interests you in your position. When do you get into a “flow” state in your daily tasks? What energizes you rather than drains you? You could even keep track of how much of your work time is spent in energizing vs. draining tasks.

This information can both help you stay motivated in your current role and help you determine what your next position might look like. 

Consider the competencies relevant to your long-term goals

The next step is figuring out what your long-term career goals are specifically. Do you have ambitions to become a CEO? Do you want to enter another field entirely?

Regardless of what you’re seeking, you can then determine what facets of your current job help you develop skills that will benefit you in the long run. With a long-term goal on the horizon, too, you may feel more engaged in your day-to-day work.

Determine what exactly about the company culture you don’t like

If you’re unhappy about your current role because of the company itself, you want to figure out what the problem is. Is the culture actively hostile or overly passive? Does the leadership hierarchy allow for too little accountability?

If we don’t keep track of precisely what is lacking in a position, we may not be able to find a more suitable job in our next attempts. Once you have your list, too, you can start researching organizations that may be a better match for what you’re seeking.

Do the same with your manager – what leadership style would be a better fit?

Once you have identified why the company culture isn’t the right fit for you, you should also figure out why your manager’s style isn’t working for you, if that is the case. If you can identify what doesn’t work for you in your manager’s leadership, then you can keep an eye out for red flags that seem to indicate this quality in your next job interview.

Find a mentor or coach to keep you accountable

If you plan on staying at your current job while searching for another one, it’s always a good idea to find a mentor who can help you on your path. Even if you’re unhappy in your job, it takes considerable willpower to both work a full-time job and search for a second one. What’s more, your mentor can help you evaluate your culture and management requirements and suggest organizations that may fit your bill more closely.

An Alternative to Disengagement

Though it’s never ideal to be in a work situation you dislike, there is a lot you can learn from these less-than-ideal circumstances. What don’t you want? What parts of the job energize you? What’s more, you can build the skills and relationships that may see you through to your next position. The bottom line is to remember that you don’t have to stay in this role forever – and that continuing to stay engaged as much as possible will help you in the long run.

Read more: Employee Engagement Ideas: 5 Actions that Work


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