Because we are so oriented to seek safety and security and a stable paycheck, we can easily fall under a spell and stay at a job too long.
It can be hard to notice the signs that you are stagnating in your job. If you’re not learning new things all the time, you are slipping backwards, because time doesn’t stop. The only thing you will ever have to sell to a new employer or to your clients is your background — the experiences you’ve had, the judgment you’ve acquired and the stories you are in a position to tell.
None of these things will grow unless you are growing in your job all the time! Many jobs start out as tremendous growth opportunities and then stall out. The challenges stop coming and you find yourself doing the same things over and over at work. Not only is this kind of work boring over time, but if the job disappears as more and more jobs are doing, what will you have to show for your last year or two on the job?
Here is a quick test. Picture your current resume and ask yourself “Could I make significant revisions to my current resume based on the new projects and experiences I’ve accumulated in the past three to six months?” If the answer is no, then you are treading water. Could you seek out more challenges at your current job? If you don’t see room to grow your muscles and your marketability at the job you have now, it may be time to think about job-hunting.
I have little dogs that like to run around for three minutes and then sit on the couch, but a lot of dog breeds are different. They are working dogs, bred to keep busy and be useful. Border collies are working dogs. They hate to be bored. Some people are like border collies. They need meaty assignments, or they go crazy! If you are like that, you’ll find that not only will you be bored in a non-challenging job, but your job performance may slip as well. It’s hard to keep doing things over and over once you’ve mastered them.
Here are five signs you are too smart for the job you’re in. That’s a good thing!
1. Looking back over the past year, can you think of three fun and challenging assignments that you completed at work? If not, do you really have another year to invest in a place that isn’t growing your skills?
2. Is there someone in your company you have access to and can learn from? If you don’t see a visionary leader around you, why does your current job still deserve your talents?
3. When you think about making positive changes and innovations at your workplace, how much appetite does your organization have for those shifts? If you have to fight to get a procedure updated or sell for months to get good ideas accepted, ask yourself: why am I working so hard for folks who don’t appreciate what I bring them?
4. When you go home from work at night, do you think “Wow! I got a lot done today and I’m excited about tomorrow” or “Man, am I glad to be on my way home – I’m wrung out!” If it’s the latter, does your job really deserve so much of your mental and emotional energy?
5. If you keep quiet at staff meetings rather than speak up and be labelled The Troublemaker or The Person With All Those Ideas, can you justify keeping your flame on “low” for another year?
Many organizations have a low tolerance for smart and creative employees. If you have border collie tendencies, you’re likely to hear things like “Don’t rock the boat!” and “Why can’t you be satisfied with the way we’ve always done things?” If you can’t be satisfied with the way things have always worked at your job, it’s not your problem — it’s theirs!
The real world outside your office walls is always changing. If your company isn’t changing just as fast as real life is, you are right to be concerned. Not only will it dull your skills to work in a stodgy, slow-moving and change-resistant organization, but it will hurt your marketability, too, and that’s one thing you can never allow your job to do.