Know the Warning Signs- Your Career Could be Headed for Disaster


For most people, a good job creates a certain amount of comfort in our lives. The idea of regular paychecks and annual pay increases lulls us into submission and we become corporate disciples. I can tell you from personal experience that this isn’t all bad. After all, I spent ten years at a fast-growing corporation where I received five promotions and quadrupled my income.

However, a comfortable corporate ascent isn’t without risk. As a headhunter with almost two decades in the recruitment business, I have seen more than my share of hardworking, once valued corporate workers become jobless and ultimately unemployable. Think of your career as a ship; you must steer it towards your goal. You might be able to let it drift for a bit, but if you don’t pay attention you could end up running ashore. Once your ship runs aground, it’s often headed for the wrecking yard.

Based on this experience, I have developed this list of three warning signs that your career may be headed for the beach.

Stay too long? – Most of the people I see ultimately getting laid off or being stuck at their company without growth are long term (twelve plus years) employees. These folks simply got too comfortable to the point that their career passed them by. They are stuck and most ultimately get let go. Here are a few signs this could be happening to you:

·     Others get the choice projects

·     Promotions and pay increases slow or become small

·     Your responsibilities shrink and other people get more resources than you

Pigeon holed? – This is a bit harder to detect, but it helps to pay attention to the external market:

·     What skills are in demand and are you getting these experiences?

·     Is your responsibility increasing?

·     Are you stuck doing the same, very specific thing because no one else can do it, or because you are seen as the expert?

Stagnant? – There are two major items that can make your sea become stagnant:

·     Stagnant or declining company – I have said it before and I will say it again; a rising tide floats all ships and a sinking tide leaves everyone stranded. If your company isn’t doing well or shrinking, find another one that is better positioned. Don’t go down with the ship.

·     Poor Leadership – If you have a bad boss, or worse, bad leadership in your organization, your career is doomed. Working for a leader who is parked in place can be another death sentence.  Work for people who inspire, motivate, and uplift you. Not people who try and lock you in place to protect their career.

Although not exactly the scope of this article, in most situations, the solution to these warning signs is simple; change jobs or change your situation within your company.

Do not allow yourself to be caught unaware “drifting” through your career; you might just become a ship stranded on the beach and headed to the wrecking yard.