What To Do When Your Professional Future Looks Bleak

April 26, 2018  |  

Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

There is no denying that we’ve all probably seen better financial and professional days. Though there have been glimmers of positivity here and there and the hope for a better tomorrow also hanging just out of reach, many of us are stuck in a bit of a career rut, wondering if the field we’ve chosen to devote our professional life to really has staying power. Personally, I’ve certainly felt the struggle when it comes to being in journalism and publishing.

As someone who, in college, dreamed of the day she would become a newspaperwoman, I’ve definitely been b-tch slapped by reality. As much as you may not want to face the truth, if you’re in a field that’s struggling to maintain its relevance, you could quickly find yourself looking for your next move. But how do you do that? How do you figure out what makes sense given your skills and your interests? How do you line yourself up for success in an uncertain and unfamiliar professional situation? MadameNoire has some advice on how to make sure you line yourself up well when your professional future looks bleak:

1. Face The Facts, Sooner Rather Than Later: This might seem like a very simple piece of advice, but trust us, admitting the realities facing your career can be exceptionally difficult. The last thing that you want to admit is that the career that you’ve devoted so much time and energy to might not be viable in the months and years to come. We’re all taught that if we work hard and throw ourselves into our careers that we’ll be rewarded with raises, promotions and other opportunities. But if you’re in a profession that is slowly becoming obsolete, those opportunities won’t exist. And that’s a really tricky thing to come to terms with. But as painful as it might be, as tough as it is, taking a step back and realizing there is nothing that you’ve done to cause the situation you find yourself in can be incredibly valuable. As the world changes around us, so do the careers that are most popular and most valuable. Accepting that you’ve been an amazing contributor to your professional landscape, but realizing you’re in an industry that might never be equipped to reward you for your efforts is a huge part of the battle and one that will allow you to figure out your next move on your terms and in your timeframe.

2. Look At Career Adjacents That Could Be An Easy Jump: Whether you look to professional mentors or colleagues in similar industries, turn to those you trust to get a sense of how you might be able to leverage the skills that you’ve acquired during your current career to move into a similar industry or job. Some careers, of course, provide more transferable skills than others. Some provide technical know-how or industry insights that will be beneficial in a variety of related careers, thus making a jump not all that difficult. However, sometimes it’s more challenging to identify where to head to next. So don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Find the people around you who know you both professionally and personally and seek their advice. They might be able to give you some important insights, observations or suggestions that you might not have been able to arrive at yourself. As challenging as it can be to see the forest through the professional tress, tapping into your network can be a great step forward.

3. Decide If You Want A Career Overhaul: The one upside to facing the prospect that the career you’ve chosen might not be sustainable is that it gives you the opportunity to re-think what it is you want to do with your life. Yes, we know, that might sound like a little bit of a stretch and maybe a little BS-ish for your tastes, but it’s really the truth. If you’re not faced with considerable professional upheaval, is it that likely that you would contemplate such a drastic career change? Some would and it’s wonderful that a growing number of people are embarking on second careers to really pursue their passions. But many of us just aren’t that bold and often need a little bit of a shove to really re-evaluate how we feel about the career we’ve chosen. Working in a dying industry is the perfect kick in the pants to get you re-thinking about what it is you want to do. Oftentimes we get complacent in jobs and go through the motions to ensure a steady paycheck and keep things status quo. But when the world around you is changing and that status quo is being upset, seize it as an opportunity. Ask yourself if the career you have is really the one you want. If it is, find a way to use those skills in a related field. If it’s not, then now is as good of a time as ever to try something new.

4. Don’t Rush A Decision, But Don’t Wait It Out Either: Our last bit of advice might seem simple, but it’s an important one. As difficult of a situation as this can be and as deliberate as you should be when it comes to figuring out your next move, don’t wait so long that the decision is made for you. Often times these shifts in which professions are steadily losing their relevance don’t happen overnight. As we suggested earlier it’s important to read the signs and begin to formulate a game plan to make sure that you weather this storm in one piece and move on to opportunities that are bigger, better and worthy of your talents. But please, don’t be that last person holding out hope that suddenly the professional landscape will change. While maybe it could, there’s a more likely chance it won’t and if you can avoid being forced out and instead leave on your own terms to pursue another opportunity, that is certainly the way to go. Nothing about change, especially when it comes to your job is easy, but if you’re able to take steps to make a transition smoother down the road, it would be foolish not to try and take advantage. Regardless of where you end up, know that your experiences are valuable. The work you have accomplished matters and you have earned a place of your choosing that has a future as bright as the one you deserve.

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