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What to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck in a Dead-End Job

It’s an awesome and energizing feeling when you first start a new job.

You’re coming off the euphoric high of making it through the hiring process, and you’re ready to hit the ground running, fully optimistic about the impact you’ll surely make in the future. And, then one day things change. It may happen gradually or seemingly overnight, but your once-exciting job has become stale, boring, and frustrating. Going to work feels deflating and you have to pull yourself out of bed for the sole obligation that you’re being paid to. You’re miserable, feeling underutilized, and in other words stuck.


It may be easy to start feeling panicked or hopeless, but here are a few things to keep in mind and to help cope when you’re stuck in a dead-end job:

  • Take a moment to evaluate if you are actually in a dead-end job

(For some this distinction is clear. However, identifying if you’re truly in a dead-end job is an important step to creating a targeted solution.)

A dead-end job is characterized by a few things such as:

  •  Fixed job duties without any or very few opportunities to develop horizontally (take on more diversify skill set and duties) or vertically (promotion and take on more responsibilities)
  • Your role is not seen as important or valuable to decision makers
  • When you provide feedback or propose an idea, you’re met with a dismissive attitude
  •  When you mention to your manager your desire to grow and develop as a professional, he or she doesn’t listen and doesn’t care.
  •  Your manager always or often delegates the work they don’t want to do
  • People come and go while your leaders simply accept it as normal
  •  You can’t imagine how your current job will differ in a year

 You’re not in a position to leave the dead-end job > Coping Strategies

  • Write down something you’re grateful for every day, a list each week, etc. The key is to get your mind off work and focus on all the good you have in your life. By physically writing or typing out what you have can help free your mind from the feeling of being trapped.
  •  If you weren’t already, make and track efforts to shine and take the lead on a special project. Not only are you rejecting the idea that you’re not capable of more, but you’re also preparing yourself for a chance to be at the very least noticed by upper management, if not promoted should the occasion arise.
  •  Make time to leave the office to remove yourself even for a little while from the negative environment. Whether it’s lunchtime, grabbing a coffee, or simply offering to take snail mail to the box—you’ll be happier when you remind yourself there is a life outside of your office.
  •  Find a trusted friend or loved one to share your frustrations with. Keeping it all to yourself doesn’t help you in the long run. Recommend to discuss over a nice glass of wine or two and a good meal.


 You’re in a position to leave the dead-end job > Preparing to Move On

  •  Reflect on what you’ve learned from this position to use as potential material for interviews
  • Ask questions about professional growth and development and company culture in interviews to ensure you don’t put yourself in another dead-end job. Interviewers will appreciate you asking relevant questions for company fit and doing your research.
  •  Start making an exit plan by polishing your resume, researching some companies, and leveraging any professional connections you trust for stealth job hunting.
  •  Realize your days working at the dead-end job are temporary and fleeting. Take pride in the fact that you’re making efforts to better your career and personal sanity.


What do you think?