Stagnant Career But Can’t Find a Job |

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EP1321 I hate stagnating in my job, but can’t find a better one. Should I take a career break? 

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I received a good question from someone that I thought was worthwhile to choose for a variety of reasons.

Let me just read it to you.

"I hate stagnating in my job, but can't find a better one. Should I take a career break? I grew rapidly in my company but got stuck in middle management (“Head of…”), mainly due to hard politics. The worst thing is that other companies don’t seem to hire at my level.

I made huge sacrifices to get here and burnt out, so I would only be satisfied with higher pay and/or level of responsibility."

I want to expand the question a little bit to address less experienced workers and then come back to deal with this specific scenario.

For the younger workers finding it difficult to find something, maybe you don't like your job and are not getting job offers, often the issue is that your interview skills need to improve. Thus, I encourage people to learn and practice and become better a job hunting. After all, the skills needed to find a job are different than those needed to do a job.

However, this is a scenario where we are dealing with a middle management professional who feels stuck. There are two ways of addressing this.

The first is to get "unstuck." Start defeating the politics and learn where you been typecast in the wrong way and adapt. You to find your problem is being with your current firm and you are stagnating because people see you in one way and value something else.

Thus, the idea is to find what they value and start playing to it. This doesn't mean you have to change jobs but it also doesn't mean that you have to quit, go home and watch TV all the time.

That should probably be your first choice.

The second may be similar to the advice that I gave to the young professional but I'm going to emphasize something a little bit different.

For the inexperienced one, I spoke about getting better at job hunting. For you, I want to encourage you to get better at networking, Often, for people who are stuck in middle management, they worked so hard for so long, keeping their heads down to do a great job that networks outside their current firm are next to nonexistent.

You need to build the network seeking question and build the validity of the statement that you made that "other companies don't seem to hire at your level."

Often they don't have an opening right now but (1) they may create one for the right person, and (2) the opening may come later on as corporate "musical chairs" starts to occur and people move from one vacancy to another.

What I'm getting at is that you are obviously frustrated with your current job but also frustrated with job hunting so you're looking for permission to give up.

I don't buy that. For the person who's worked hard their entire career and for the first time have run into a career obstacle, quitting should not be your choice. Taking a break should not be your choice.

Finding the path to the right situation should be your choice and practicing patience should become part of your repertoire, rather than giving up.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Connect with me on LinkedIn. Then message me to schedule a free discovery session. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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