Three Common Career Ruts -- and How to Get Out of Them

career-advice-burn-outRobert Half International

It's Monday morning, it's time for work, and you're finding it hard to get moving. In fact, building up enough motivation to head to the office is a constant challenge. Although you don't hate your job, you don't love it either -- a far cry from when you started the position and looked forward to all the opportunities and challenges ahead of you.

It can be easy to fall into a career rut -- sometimes, you may not even notice until you've been in one for a while -- and getting out is often difficult. Following are three common career ruts and strategies for overcoming them:

1. You're burned out

The recent recession put many workers to the test. "Doing more with less" was the theme at your company, and you were asked to work longer hours and take on additional job responsibilities. Even if you found the challenge rewarding at first, the extra work took its toll eventually. Now, you're burned out and tired of the constant grind.

Rather than trying to grin and bear it, talk to your boss. Your manager may be just as busy as you are and not even be aware that you're running on empty. By talking to your supervisor about your workload and solutions for reducing it, you may find that some of your work gets reassigned or postponed and that you leave with advice that helps ease your stress.

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2. Your job seems to be going nowhere

You've been working in your position for a while but just can't seem to move up the corporate ladder. You feel you've distinguished yourself, but your colleagues are the only ones given high-profile projects and promotions.

In this type of situation, it's wise to perform a self-assessment to better understand potential roadblocks that may be preventing you from advancing professionally. For example, do you possess the right skills to assume more responsibility, or could you stand to improve certain key abilities? Do you have a positive reputation at the firm, or have there been instances when you failed to meet expectations or clashed with colleagues? Has your manager alerted you to weaknesses in your skill set, and have you taken steps to overcome them?

The answers to these questions can help you figure out the next step. You may also want to meet with your boss to express your interest in advancing and seek tips on what is necessary to do so.

3. Your line of work doesn't inspire you anymore

You work as an executive assistant and used to love the varied assignments and fast pace. But now, the idea of coding another invoice, distributing even one more memo or taking what seems like the millionth message has you rolling your eyes. When it's the work itself you no longer enjoy, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

A good place to start is to make a list of the aspects of your job that give you the greatest satisfaction. For instance, if you who love planning events, consider whether there are other opportunities to apply those skills within the company. Getting involved in the organization of the firm's annual employee picnic, for instance, might boost your spirits and renew your enthusiasm for your career. Also consider volunteer work outside of your employer that taps into your expertise. Applying your talents in new and interesting ways may help you return to the office with a fresh perspective.

Above all, remember that a career rut may not be entirely negative. In fact, reaching a professional plateau can often serve as catalyst for positive change, bringing about greater job satisfaction. By considering your interests and taking action to find more fulfillment in your work, you may even start looking forward to Mondays.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at

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