Do you start to get a sense of dread on Sunday night about the impending work week? Does the alarm on Monday morning signal the start of a nightmarish existence over the next few days as you dream of the freedom Friday afternoon ushers in?
If so, you might be in a dead-end job.
Living in this situation is no fun, and the two most common mistakes are moving too quickly to escape or not taking any action and suffering through prolonged periods of stress because you are afraid of making a change. Both are wrong and can lead to big career mistakes.
Following these often overlooked steps will help you finish well and have a successful transition.
Understand the Role of Work in Our Relationship With God
In our pleasure-seeking world that has fostered an insatiable desire for instant gratification, we can be led to believe that every moment of our life should be fun and exciting. Many people unfortunately see work as a necessary evil that funds the life they really live for.
The reality is that work was designed by God as part of our relationship with Him. God was the first worker, and He saw that His work was good. Before the fall of man, God gave Adam a job in the garden and their relationship was partly based on it.
Our work is part of our identity with our creator God. Therefore, we should never view work as a necessary evil, but rather as part of our worship. The truth is our work should be at least somewhat fulfilling and enjoyable, and if it is not, it is a sign that we are misaligned and in the wrong job.
Understand God Has a Plan
If God designed work for us, then He also designed each of us for specific purposes. Many people have followed career paths that parents wanted them to have, or they chose a career based on salary or prestige without asking themselves, “What does God want me to do?”
When you know how God made you and the unique design He gave you, it is easier to pick a career path that you will enjoy. When you are living in your passion and design, work becomes part of our worship and something we love to do (at least, most of the time).
Before You Escape, Improve Performance!
No doubt, many of us will find times in our lives where we are in a position we feel is a dead end. We know we need a change, but God may have us in a holding pattern as He develops us.
Think of the time David spent being hunted by King Saul or the time Joseph spent in Egypt. Both spent many years in undesirable spots as God developed them for the leadership roles He had for them in the future.
If you find yourself in a dead-end job and are looking for the next step, ask yourself what God may be trying to teach you in this current role. While you are being developed, the natural inclination may be to “check-out” and not give your best. But do the opposite! Improve your performance. Strive to be the best employee at your organization.
You always want to finish on a high note and have your co-workers wishing you success, not feeling glad you are departing. This is not only a great testimony, but it will also protect your reputation and help you later on in your career.
Protect Your Relationships
In this economy, relationships are currency. All business is based on relationships, and your career will accelerate or sputter based on the relationships you have, your connections and the reputation you develop based on your work.
Many people leave a place of work thinking that job and relationships in that environment will only hold a place in their history. The reality is that it will hold a place in your future as well. Many employers will contact old bosses—or even old colleagues!—for recommendations. In many industries, reputations and rumors spread faster than a bad flu.
Accelerate your career by protecting your reputation, building strong relationships, doing great work, honoring your commitments and being a person people love, respect and want to work with.
Default to Taking Action
It has been said that God can’t steer a parked car. Far too often, I have heard people complain about miserable jobs, insufferable bosses and abusive environments—and then sit back and hope that God will open a door for them to leave.
Hope is not a strategy, and it is not a sign of great faith to do nothing. Sometimes, we can just be lazy. We need to be in prayer and seek wise counsel and know that God will open doors in His timing, but we are also expected to be a part of the equation.
Take the time to update your resumé. You should have a different resumé for every job you are applying for that highlights your key attributes for that job. Notify your network and connections in positions of influence that you are looking to make a transition. Seventy-five percent of jobs are not advertised and are filled by connections and word of mouth.
Reach out to placement agencies like Vaco, Korn Ferry and Grant Thornton to see what is available in your market and work with a professional team. Leverage free applications like Poacht, Switch, Jobr and JobBox to help you search and discreetly notify others that you are on the market and looking for a new opportunity.
When you do get an offer, be sure to take the time to negotiate your salary and perks. Those in dead-end jobs often neglect this because they have the mindset that “any opportunity is better than this one.”
Never lose hope! So often, I have seen that when people are at their lowest, that is when they have their biggest breakthroughs. As opportunities come in, remember not to jump at the first one. Take your time to make sure it is the right fit for you and that it will enhance your career and unlock your full potential.