What To Do When You’ve Outgrown Your Job

November 13, 2015  |  

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Sheyda Irani, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a home health agency based in St. Louis, MO, was getting restless on her job. She had been in her position for six years and felt she’d outgrown her current role, but wasn’t sure what to do.

It’s a familiar point many people reach in their careers. Maybe you’ve learned all you can at your job or you finish your tasks in half the time and find the work unchallenging and feel underutilized. Perhaps you’re also unsure of your future with the company. Having hit a wall, you may start to question your career choices. You drag yourself into the office everyday, unenthusiastic and uninterested. Once at your desk, you constantly watch the clock, counting every minute before you can go home. In short, you’re unhappy professionally.

Your body will also tell when you’re no longer compatible with your job. “The body has a way of communicating what’s really going on even when the rest of you isn’t ready to see it yet,” Idealist Career reported. “Notice when your body feels out of balance. Look for headaches, back or muscle aches, changes in appetite or sleep pattern as signals that you’re out of balance. View these signals in combination with the other nine signs and try to be honest with yourself. At this point you should ask yourself a few questions: “Do I just need a getaway weekend or would I be happier with a new job or new position?”

If you want to stay with your firm, have a chat with your higher up. “If you aren’t satisfied with your role, but like your company, talk to your manager. Career coach Lori Scherwin, founder of Strategize That, suggested. Chances are, if you have aced your current role, you’re a strong performer. Go into that conversation with suggestions, not complaints — recommend a new project you’d like to take on, or where else you think you can add value on the team.”

That’s exactly what Irani decided to do. “Make a long story short, I finally obtained the confidence stemmed from desperation to have a conversation with administration. In the meeting I requested to move up within the company because I needed more responsibility. I reminded them of my loyalty of six years and conveyed my personal strengths and assets to the company. I was responsible for completing 6-month assessments for all clients receiving in-home health care through the Medicaid program. I asked for more responsibilities and requested the Quality Assurance (QA) position.

“Prior to the meeting I had done extensive research on the position, compiled a new resume to reflect my qualifications for the QA position. I even created a training module for a department within the company on the assessment process. I was confident I would walk away as the QA officer for the largest Home Health agency in St.Louis, MO. However, I was informed that my position would change to a field nurse working with a disabled child in the home. That transfer went into effect on 11-2-15. I was told to have my desk cleared for the new office nurse on 10-30-15.”

The end result, however, wasn’t what Irani predicted. “I had been given a choice to resign or be demoted. ‘Hmmm? What? Huh? I guess that meeting didn’t go so well,’ I thought. This demotion was only in rank and responsibility because I received a $1 per hour raise.”

When making the move to talk to your boss, you have to be prepared for every outcome.  You boss could think you are angling for a major raise and decide to fire you or, as in Irani’s case, demote you. So have a solid plan before arranging the meeting. It’s all in your approach; show you don’t just want to make changes for yourself but in order to better serve the company. “I recommend for anyone who no longer finds their position challenging to seek ways to add value to the organization,” said executive career coach Ann-Marie Ditta. “Volunteer for a special project that would allow you to stretch yourself. Present solutions to problems your company is facing. Seek the assistance of a mentor inside the organization. Ask what you could do differently to be of greater value.”

Fortunately for Irani she decided to look at the outcome as positive. “At first I was disappointed with administration and felt betrayed. But the change has been a blessing. It’s given me more time to fulfill my purpose, which is writing. Also that saying, ‘Work smarter, not harder.’ I finally know what that means and I completely agree. So next time you want to add more responsibility to your work belt make sure you have a plan B, just in case. Not everyone understands the individual that needs to be challenged mentally.”

If you think you can white knuckle it and stay in a job that is unsatisfactory, know that you might experience negative side effects,” Scherwin cautioned. “The negatives of staying in a role you’ve outgrown include stagnating and leaving yourself vulnerable with change. If you aren’t expanding your skill set or actively thinking, you risk being more replaceable over time. Also, if you are unhappy at work, it’s very likely to have trickle effect across other areas of your life.”

If you fail to get satisfaction on the job and don’t see any improvement, it may be time to move on.

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