Networking

Are You in Career Purgatory?

career purgatory

Do you constantly worry that despite your awesome qualifications, you’re always going to be underpaid, undervalued, and doing a job that doesn’t excite you? Do you feel stumped as to why your career has plateaued even though you are a high achiever? If you said yes to either of these, you’re likely in Career Purgatory.

When my client John first came to me, I wasn’t even sure I could help him. On the outside, he had everything going for him. He was in well-paying role that aligned with his skill set and gave him the flexibility to work from home. He even got to travel to Puerto Rico office every so often.

What he told me though was he was stuck in career purgatory. Although the term itself made me smile (personally I hadn’t heard it before), I knew it was no laughing matter for my client.

He enjoyed the work he was doing but wasn’t really passionate about the company. He felt completely stuck and didn’t know what to do about it. This feeling is actually pretty common.


Also read: Don’t Get Stuck: How to Progress When You’re Highly Valued in Your Current Role | Advancing on the Job Series


What is Career Purgatory?

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace only 33% of employees feel engaged at work. Many things can lead to disengagement at work, too. Here are just a few common ones:

  • You feel your compensation doesn’t align with the value you bring to the organization
  • You don’t feel appreciated by management
  • You don’t get along well with your co-workers
  • You feel that the work you do doesn’t contribute to the greater good of society.

And, when you don’t feel engaged at work, it can lead to feeling like you’re in career purgatory – feeling like you’re stuck and no longer moving forward in your career.

Career purgatory isn’t caused because you aren’t ready for the next step. It happens because you feel more than ready for the next step and you know your value, but it’s not being appreciated.

Before you blame others for not appreciating you, take a moment to reflect on what has been happening in your career. Have you just been heads down working hard? Do you keep getting passed over for promotions or just can’t seem to land an interview?

If you’re nodding your head in agreement to these questions, then it’s likely you’re too focused on doing the work and not enough on promoting yourself.


Also read: Why Self-Promotion is an Absolute Necessity for Every Professional (Part 1) | Advancing on the Job Series


Escape Career Purgatory with Self-Promotion

Here are some strategies to promote yourself without sounding like a braggart:

Share progress and results: While you’re working on a big project notify your team and superiors of milestones you’ve reached along the way. It lets others know what you’re doing and makes you look like a team player for sharing.

Ask to take work off your boss’ plate: A manager always appreciates an employee who can help them out. It can also help prepare you for the next level by getting experience doing part of that job.

Compliment your colleagues and praise your subordinates: When you draw attention to your colleagues’ successes it will establish you as a positive individual. If you have direct reports, praise can motivate them to work harder and get you better results. It will also improve your reputation as a manager.

Volunteer: This can be inside or outside of work. Do you have a special skill you feel doesn’t get used enough? See if there is a special project at work or something going on in your industry association where that skill can shine.

Network: Just because you are employed doesn’t mean you should stop networking. This is the time to be more giving so when you need help, your network will be there.

So, just because things appear okay to outsiders, it doesn’t mean you need to accept that. You know when you’re stuck in career purgatory and now you’ll be able to take some action to get yourself out.


Looking for More Support with Career Advancement?
Check out our Advancing on the Job Series


About the Author

Self-proclaimed job search geek, Michelle Robin takes the often frustrating and miserable task of job search and makes it more enjoyable, perhaps even fun, for her clients. An award-winning dual-certified resume writer (NCRW, CPRW) and founder of Brand Your Career, Michelle helps sales and marketing executives transform their career marketing materials into a package that wows their target employer. Click HERE to receive Michelle’s free guide How To Make Yourself Stand Out In A Highly Competitive Sales And Marketing World.