We all want to have a good job with the potential for a lasting career. Besides the importance of making enough money, there’s also emotional relief that comes with feeling like your job is stable. However, even having an apparently stable job doesn’t necessarily mean your position will turn into a career.
Whether you’ve been at your job for 10 months or 10 years, you will only achieve a career if you are in a position that can lead somewhere. While people often think of a job and a career as synonymous, they really are not. Jobs are often about receiving pay, whereas a career is about improving your skills and moving forward, often with goals in mind. While you can apply for a job, you can’t apply for a career: You have to make it. Here are five signs that your job isn’t going in the career direction.
1. You don’t see yourself staying
If you don’t see yourself enjoying your job — or one like it — in a few years, you probably are not headed in the career direction. Some jobs are really only meant to pay bills, and if that is how you feel about your current job, you probably will not want to make a career out of it.
A career requires that you develop skills and move forward, and if you have a job that doesn’t interest you or is simply financially necessary, with no real other positives, then it won’t turn into a career. This isn’t always a bad thing, though, as many people need to have a job that is just a job — at least for a while. Not every job has to lead to a career.
2. You haven’t gotten a promotion
If you’ve only been at your company for a short time, then never getting a promotion isn’t a red flag. However, if you’ve been working at your company for a long time and you really think you deserve a promotion but you aren’t getting one, then that might be a sign that your job isn’t going to lead to a career. While having a job is great, if there is no chance for advancement or change in your job, then it might be time to look elsewhere.
But before you do, think about your job performance. There are several reasons that your boss may not have given you a promotion. Maybe you swear or gossip too much, you’re scared to take on new challenges, you leave quickly at the end of the day, you don’t show that your job is important, you can’t take criticism, or perhaps you are too good at your job and your boss doesn’t want to replace you. If you’re sure your lack of promotion isn’t your fault, you might be looking at a job and not a career.
3. The company you work for is too small
There are many advantages to working for a small company, but if your company is so small that there’s no chance for advancement, you might have to look elsewhere to find a career. It depends on your own goals. If you are happy with your current job duties and you are making enough money, you might stay in your job until you retire.
However, if you want more responsibility, want to learn new things, and want to progress to more challenging roles, then you might need to find a different job. If the company you work for is so small that there’s little chance you could take on a different role — either because your coworkers will retire at the same time as you or because there just are not enough jobs — it may not be a career-worthy job.
4. Your employer is in financial trouble
Even if you are in a position that has job requirements that you enjoy and challenge you, and you can see yourself doing your job and moving forward at your company, if your company is in financial trouble, you may still not be looking at a career. Regardless of how good you are at your job, if the company you work for has to lay off several people or even fold completely, you won’t have a company ladder to move up.
If you’re wondering if your company could be in trouble, IAAP has some signs to watch out for. If staff perks are being lessened, you’re having to do more work without a raise, customer orders are slowing, other employees are being laid off, or you’ve been asked to take a pay cut or unpaid leave, watch out.
5. You know you aren’t doing your best
If you know that you haven’t performed the best that you could or you have been failing to take your job seriously, you might not get the chance to make a career out of your job. There are easy ways to kill your own career, such as failing to update your skills, not working well with your coworkers, failing to network, and refusing to take risks. If you already understand and realize that you haven’t given your all in a particular job, then your boss has probably noticed, too. Even if you are doing enough to keep your job, you probably are not going to advance or be given any more responsibilities anytime soon.
A job is important to have, regardless of whether it leads to a career. However, for many people, it’s important to be passionate about your job, to work hard, and to move up over time. If you are facing any of the five signs above, you may not be in the best place to build your career.