How to Move Your Career Where You Want It to Go

 
 
By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-01-31
 
 
 

Does your career feel stagnant? Recent research from the Conference Board showed job satisfaction levels at the lowest levels in 22 years. Only 45 percent of 5,000 respondents are satisfied in their jobs, compared with 61 percent back in 1987.

"While one in 10 Americans is now unemployed, their working compatriots of all ages and incomes continue to grow increasingly unhappy," said Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board, in a statement. "Through both economic boom and bust during the past two decades, our job satisfaction numbers have shown a consistent downward trend."

The numbers are weak across the board for all age groups from Gen Y to Baby Boomers.

"These numbers do not bode well given the multi-generational dynamics of the labor force," said Linda Barrington, managing director of The Conference Board. "The newest federal statistics show that baby boomers will compose a quarter of the U.S. workforce in eight years, and since 1987 we've watched them increasingly losing faith in the workplace. ... The growing dissatisfaction across and between generations is important to address because it can directly impact the quality of multi-generational knowledge transfer--which is increasingly critical to effective workplace functioning."

If the recession has had you down and advancement opportunities in your current job are non-existent, you might consider the things you can accomplish on your own to help set you up for the next step in your path. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked to several career experts and advised three potential ideas: volunteering to obtain new skills, working on your network and moving laterally within your current company.

Offering to take on extra responsibilities at work that will allow you to develop a new skill or gain experience in a new area may also be a way to bolster your résumé, says Margaret-Ann Cole, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, a human-resources consulting firm based in New York. Just be sure to limit your efforts to a specific time frame, such as six months, to avoid being taken advantage of, she advises. Also, make sure what you'll be doing will help you move up later on by first running the idea past someone in your target job, a mentor or a career adviser.

If you think the additional work might overwhelm you, see if you can delegate some of your primary duties to a junior colleague who could benefit in the same way, says Cole. "Managers love when you say, 'Here's my plan to take on more and not leave myself to suffer,'" she says.

Finally, consider enrolling in workshops or classes on a subject pertinent to your goals, and once you've finished, add them to your résumé, says Hollander, the workplace psychologist.

"It negates the idea that you're lazy and just biding your time," she says. "It shows you're taking charge and no matter what the market's doing, it's not going to stop you from reaching your goals."

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