3 Tips on What to Do When You’re in a Dead End Job

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job, Guides - 3 years ago

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When you’ve spent months or years in the same place working the same 9-to-5, it can sometimes be tough to recognize when that job’s not taking you anywhere.

But that’s exactly the kind of appraisal you’ve got to be making if you want to have any chance of meeting your retirement goals, or even just for feeling good and motivated about whatever position you already have.

The last thing you want is to stick it out in a job that’s never going to reward you no matter how much of yourself you put into it.

“There’s literally no way I’ll ever be promoted, but at least my job of writing fake reviews for bad restaurants on Yelp is rewarding to me.”

But what exactly is wrong with keeping a dead end job? And how do you go about changing the script once you’ve recognized that that’s a position you’ve found yourself in?

We here at Zippia have put together a guide to help you navigate just that.


1. What’s Wrong With Working a Dead End Job?

If you’re comfortable working in what you believe to be a dead end job, then there’s nothing really wrong with doing so.

After all, the biggest thing about working any job is just that you’re making enough money and that your job satisfies you, and oftentimes even those things are luxuries.

But if you have the opportunity to find new jobs and feel that your current one isn’t leading anywhere, then there are a lot of good reasons to try to find something new — even if your brain doesn’t want to believe that you should leave your comfort zone.

Pictured: Me when I’m in a dead end job, trying to block the knowledge that I’m in a dead end job from entering my brain and making me sad.

But as hard as finding a new job can be, the benefits of moving to something else from a dead end job should be immediately apparent.

Even if you move to something with the same pay and mostly the same responsibilities, being in a position that has genuine upward mobility will help you muster some motivation for completing your job’s responsibilities beyond the simple fact of having to do them in order to get paid.

More than that, though, working a job with no possible upward progression is a lot like renting a house rather than buying one. It makes sense to rent when you can’t afford a mortgage, but a mortgage will eventually lead to you owning a house — renting won’t.

Similarly, a dead-end job can be worked forever, but you might find you’re doing the same thing pretty much until you die.

2. Signs You’re Working in a Dead End Job

It’s not always easy to pinpoint which jobs are dead-end and which aren’t.

Even a job that you enjoy and get a lot out of can be a dead end one, if it meets the right characteristics.

Are you having to assemble thousands of pages of random numbers in order to feed them to a sentient computer with a human mouth? You might be in a dead end job.

Here are some signs your job might be a dead end one:

  • If there’s no clear path for promotion, or if promotion looks unlikely for other reasons.
  • If you’re not interested in taking a promotion even if you were to be offered one.
  • If the company hires from the outside rather than promoting from within.
  • If your employer has you do the exact same things every day with no clear sense of progression of job duties.
  • If the company is no longer growing, or wasn’t growing in the first place.
  • If you hate your job, or if the job has a high turnover rate.

3. What Should You Do Once You Realize You’re Working a Dead End Job?

It’s important to note at this point that not everyone has the ability to get out a job that they recognize as being a dead end.

Society does not treat everyone the same, and until things start getting a little more equitable, there’s no good reason to stigmatize holding a dead end job any more than they already have been.

So if you’re the kind of person staying in a dead end job because you have no other choice or because you’re waiting for a time when better opportunities will be more likely, then it’s totally fine to spend a little time in this position.

But if you’ve got the skills and the education necessary to move into something better than what you have, it’s worth mentioning that there are a lot of people out there who simply don’t realize that a better job is possible for them.

TFW you realize you actually are allowed to quit a job you don’t like or enjoy.

With that in mind, here are a few things you can do once you’ve realized you’re in a dead end job and want to get out of it:

  • First off, update your resume. A job hunt is going to be the logical next step for anything at this point, and the first step to a job hunt is always ensuring that your resume is as up to date as possible.
  • Think about what upsets you about your current position. Is it just a lack of opportunity for advancement, or is it the job itself? If you’re not happy with your career in the first place, then a change in position (even to one with more opportunities to progress) won’t solve your problems.
  • If your job is dead end because you’re not having the chance to use all of your skills, then consider what type of jobs might let you put those skills to good use.
  • If your company is large enough, see if there are any positions in a different department that might be more up your alley in terms of responsibilities or advancement opportunities. Finding a job in a situation like this is often easier than looking elsewhere.

Wrapping Up:

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind:

Changing jobs is a major decision to make. It can take you away from comfortable (even just plain old stable) situations, and there’s a lot of risk involved.

That’s why it’s extremely important to know what you’re leaving, and what you’re leaving it for.

Trading one dead-end job for another isn’t going to do you any favors, after all.

He may look happy here, and may even have a sticky note on his forehead proclaiming that he is, but inside this man is always crying.

So whatever you do, make sure that any new situation you enter is going to be one that’s good for you.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Big Tips for Writing a 140 Character Resume
3 Tips for Playing Hooky (Without Getting Caught)
6 Tips for Writing an Awesome Consulting Resume

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