5 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Job (and What to Do About It)

When you start a new job, you can’t help but be excited. Each morning, you jump out of bed, grateful to be working for your new employer. You want to learn everything you can about the company, you can’t wait to start your new projects, and every day presents a new opportunity to shine.

After a couple of months or years, the excitement starts to fade. You’re tired of working on the same types of assignments, and it feels as if your progress has stalled. Each morning, you drag yourself out of bed, hoping the day will go by quickly. Your co-workers are starting to annoy you, and you’re not very interested in your work. What happened? Chances are you’ve outgrown your job. There are a few telltale signs that indicate it’s time for a change.

Here are five signs you’ve outgrown your job and what you can do about it.

1. You’ve become a clock watcher

Alarm clock on laptop

Are you checking your watch before lunchtime even rolls around? | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Have you gotten to the point where 5 p.m. just can’t come fast enough? Are you checking your watch before lunchtime even rolls around? If you don’t feel connected to your company’s mission anymore, you’re not alone. Just 32% of employees surveyed in a Gallup Poll say they are engaged at work. Most (about 50.8%) are not engaged, while about 17.2% admit to being actively disengaged. If you’re constantly watching the clock, it’s pretty obvious you don’t enjoy your job as much as you used to. Life is too short to work at a job where you don’t feel connected.

Next: Don’t wait on your manager to change things.   

What you can do

woman checking watch

If you don’t feel engaged at work, do something about it. | iStock.com/dolgachov

Take personal responsibility for your engagement. If you don’t feel engaged at work, do something about it instead of expecting your managers or teammates to cheer you on. David Zinger, founder of Employee Engagement Network, suggests reframing how you see work. Instead of telling yourself you work for a company, try seeing yourself as a partner with the company.

“Employees can and should experience the benefits of being more engaged in their work,” Zinger said on the TalentSpace blog. “When individuals take personal responsibility for their own engagement they’re less likely to feel like a victim at work. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad bosses and toxic workplaces, but if we let external factors rule us, work will never measure up.”

2. You’re completing tasks above your job description

overworked woman

When you’re being asked to do tasks above your job description on a regular basis, it’s time for a talk. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

It can sometimes be flattering when your boss asks you to work on a challenging assignment that would usually be completed by someone in a higher role. However, when you’re being asked to do tasks above your job description on a regular basis, it’s time for a talk. If you continue going down this path, you’re setting yourself up to be taken advantage of. Instead of doing significantly more work for less pay, speak up.

Next: You might get a raise, but you have to speak up.

What you can do


A title change and raise should be in your future. | iStock.com

Arrange a meeting with your boss, so you can discuss upgrading your position with the company. If you’ve been regularly going above and beyond your role (and you’ve been doing a good job), a title change and a raise should be in your future. However, don’t just make demands during your meeting. The best way to ask for what you want is first to do research on what employees make who perform similar duties (and don’t forget to take education, experience, and location into account). Also, share examples of successful projects you’ve completed. You don’t know what kind of raise you’ll get until you at least ask.

3. There’s no opportunity for advancement

man climbing stairs

Has your career stalled? | Thinkstock.com

You could also be in the opposite situation, where you’re regularly receiving raises and promotions. You’re an excellent worker, and you’ve been promoted several times. The only problem is there’s nowhere left for you to use your skills. You’ve climbed all the rungs on the ladder for your position, and you’re just hanging out at the top. Now, you’re stuck in the same place, year after year, working at the same job for the same salary.

Next: How volunteering can change your career.

What you can do

Lady texting and using laptop

Explore other roles with your current employer. | iStock.com/DragonImages

If you like working for your company and you would rather stay put, explore other roles with your current employer. Professor and author Herminia Ibarra suggests in her Harvard Business Review column that employees create their own opportunities when it seems as if they’ve hit a ceiling. One way you can do this is by volunteering to work on a project outside your primary work role. Ibarra says:

All companies have projects that cut across lines of business, hierarchical levels and functional specialties. Find out what they are, and maybe more importantly, who’s involved. Getting experience across business lines is a better choice than further deepening your skill base within a functional silo. The new skills, big-picture perspective, extra-group connections and ideas about future moves that projects can bring are well worth the investment.

4. You’re bored

man slumped over his desk at work

Use boredom as an opportunity to develop your skills.| iStock.com

When you first began working for your employer, you were nervous about whether you could perform your job well. You stayed at the office late and carefully checked your work. Nowadays, you could do your job with your eyes closed. Your job has become almost too easy.

If you find you’re often bored, this is a sign you’re either not getting enough work or your job just isn’t a right match for your skill level. Instead of relaxing and relishing in the comfort of a boring job, you should use this as an opportunity to develop your skills.

Next: Never let good enough, be good enough. 

 What you can do

man working

Take time to develop your skills. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Instead of complaining and wasting company time, be proactive when it comes to finding a solution. Boredom at work could have several causes. The good news is there are plenty of solutions (and no, it doesn’t involve hanging out on the roof during work hours).

Ask for more challenging work. If the problem is you’re not getting enough work to fill your time, meet with your boss and discuss the problem with your workflow. Ask for meatier assignments that challenge you and keep you engaged for an appropriate amount of time.

Lend a hand. If you have extra time on your hands, you could also ask a team member if he or she needs assistance with a project. Being a team player will not only help keep boredom at bay, but also it will help you learn new skills.

Develop yourself. Continue to grow and learn by taking continuing-education courses, reading books, and attending industry networking events. If you don’t continue to learn new things and grow professionally, you risk losing your edge. Getting too comfortable could be the kiss of death to your career. Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, suggests getting a more challenging job, whether it’s with your current employer or a different one. Take opportunities to develop yourself whenever you can. If you happen to get laid off or fired and you haven’t developed any new skills, it will be more difficult to get your next job.

5. You’re not focused

headache during work at the office

It will be tough to remain with your current employer if you’re just not into it. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Has it become increasingly difficult to focus on your work? Are you just not as interested in your assignments as you used to be? Not being focused and interested enough to get through your work day is an uncomfortable place to be. You want to do your job, and do it well, but you just can’t get the motivation you need to power through. It will be tough to remain with your current employer if you’re just not into it.

Next: Maybe it’s time for a major change.

What you can do

man working at a desk

A career coach can help you find the solutions you need to be a more productive team member. | iStock.com

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re completely disinterested in your work and barely have enough motivation to send an email, don’t force things. At this point, it’s most likely time to move on and make a fresh start at a different company. Depending on your situation, you might also want to consider a career change. But before you make a major decision, do some exploration to find out why you’re drained. A career coach can help you find the solutions you need to be a more productive team member. For all you know, burnout could be the real problem. When was the last time you had a vacation? Find the answers you need, so you can breathe new life into your career.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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