Meet Nick. Nick is seriously considering quitting his job. He’s been in the same position for almost three years and hates everything about it.
There’s only one thing keeping Nick from putting in his notice: He actually loves the company he works for. He believes in its mission and the work it does. He likes his coworkers–the ones on other teams than his, anyway. The benefits are great, the office is close to his apartment, and he can always count on a lively Game of Thrones discussion in the break room on Monday mornings. Nick’s just not getting the career advancement he wants in the role he’s in.
If you can relate to Nick, you’re not alone. A 2015 LinkedIn study found that 50% of millennials who left their jobs did so because of a lack of career advancement opportunities. While that’s an easy decision for some to make, when you feel like your organization is where you belong, it can get a little more complicated.
Fortunately for you, there are some viable alternatives. Here are three ways to escape a job you hate without leaving a company you love.
Picking a career is never easy. Very few people who first set foot in the workforce get it right on their first, second, or sometimes even third try. You might think your future lies in marketing and then actually start working in the field and realize it underwhelms you. Don’t feel like you need to stay tied to that career path.
And don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s just this particular boss or this particular position if you suspect the issue runs deeper. In fact, LinkedIn also found that when changing jobs, 34% of people pick a a new one where their role is completely different. In other words, it’s more common than you may think to change course dramatically–all without leaving your current employer.
First, talk informally with coworkers in other departments and see what their positions are like. See what sparks your interest, and make a list of positions that might be a better fit for you. Find out what the requirements are for those roles. Chances are there are some skills you already possess and others you’ll need to work on.
Then be open about it with your boss. Talk with your manager about wanting to explore other options within the company. Be clear that you don’t want to leave the organization but you’d like to try out another role. They might be able to put you on some cross-departmental projects to help you get hands-on experience. If your manager balks, offer to work on projects for the other department in your free time, and assure them it won’t interfere with your present duties.
Once a position opens up in your new chosen department, make it known that you’d like to be considered. Since the organization is already familiar with your work ethic and experience, you’ll have a definite advantage over outsiders.
Perhaps you’re simply bored. You know you’re not ready for a promotion, but while you’re excellent at what you do, the day-to-day tasks have become tedious.
If that’s the case, look for opportunities outside your role to spice up your routine. Maybe there are ways for you to help make your team more efficient. Volunteer to help others out. When an issue arises, tackle it yourself instead of just passing it on to your superior. That will add variety to your workday while increasing your value as you learn new skills.
And you might be surprised how it improves your feelings about your job. A 2016 Society for Human Resource Management study found that 89% of employees feel more engaged with their work if they’re able to take action when they see an opportunity. Sometimes all you need is to feel a little more agency.
Remember that job descriptions don’t need to be rigid. Of course you’ll still need to fulfill your responsibilities, but you don’t necessarily need to feel limited by them. It’s up to you, though, to take the initiative and expand them.
If you’re confident about your career path but feel you’ve outgrown your position, it’s time to talk to your manager about taking the next step forward. Schedule an official one-on-one with your boss and let her know you’re ready for more responsibility.
Sometimes to get what you want, all you have to do is ask. That tends to hold true for career advancement. A 2014 Accenture study found that while only 44% of employees have asked for a promotion, 68% of those who did ask received them.
Prepare a good argument about why you deserve a promotion. Come armed with concrete evidence of how your work has impacted the organization. Numbers and data will be more convincing than just declaring you’re ready to move up the ladder.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about why you haven’t already advanced further. Perhaps there haven’t been any promotions available recently. Your manager can then reassure you that when one does open up, you’ll be first in line–or if you’ve been passed over, tell you why. That will help you focus on ways to improve so you can prepare for the next step. You can even see if it’s possible for you to slowly start taking on new responsibilities in order to prove you can handle a new role.
It can be rough to love your organization but desperately want out of your job. You can grin and bear it or reluctantly leave for another job. Or instead, you could take the situation into your own hands by blazing your own career path. Don’t take the easy way. A better future at your company awaits if you’re only willing to work for it.