What to do when you’re in a career slump

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 05 June 2019

Most jobs start out as a new, exciting opportunity laden with career possibilities – and for the lucky among us, they may just stay that way.  

Unfortunately, most Australians were recently reported to experience ‘boredom’ and disengagement with their work, with a 2018 report by Business Insider revealing that a whopping 87% of us experience such a slump. 
The numbers are even greater if you’re millennial – in 2016, a survey by Udemy for Business showed that this age group was nearly twice as likely than baby boomers to experience ‘work boredom’

“…They are the most disengaged generation in the workforce globally,” research director of Future Workplace, Dan Shawbel, explains

So, when work starts feeling a little less “Wall Street” and a little more “Groundhog Day”, how does one get back in the game? Here at SkillsTalk, we dive into the four most effective coping methods.

How to get out of a career slump

  1. Take on new projects or opportunities.
  2. Upgrade your skillset.
  3. Network with new people.
  4. Pursue something else.
  5. Fear not, a career slump is only temporary.

1. Take on new projects or opportunities.

young asian woman with glasses smiling and working on something

In the same study by Business Insider, research found uninteresting work tasks to be the top cause of Australian work boredom. 

“Employees can become unenthused with their job if they’re doing the same work every day,” says Nicole Gorton, Director of Robert Half Australia. 

She recommends that the pursuit of new work challenges; tasks that push you out of your everyday comfort zone, to be an effective cure of the all-too common work slump. 

It may be worth taking time to reflect and redefine your personal career goals. Once you’ve determined what makes work meaningful, go after it – whether it be a new project, new role responsibilities, or going after that promotion. The excitement of trying something new, and succeeding at whatever it may be, may just stoke the fires of motivation and direction once more.  

However, it’s important to note that while menial, routine tasks may be the culprit behind your disengagement; in some cases, these tasks might simply be necessary.

Before dismissing your current workload altogether, it helps to remember how it contributes to the team or bigger picture. For some, this may just be a temporary stage in your career, prepping you with the skills required to eventually advance the ladder. Having this positive perspective can help make your ‘routine’ feel a little less humdrum and a little more purposeful.    

2. Upgrade your skillset.

bearded man smiling and reading something on laptop

On the note of new challenges, another way to lift yourself from a slump is to try upskilling.

With continuous innovations to the Australian economy, workers must constantly update their skills to suit the ever-changing job market. This was highlighted in a 2017 report by the Australian Government, one that especially mentioned the area of digital technology – an increasingly prevalent field all workers were recommended to train and upgrade their skillsets in. 

While technology’s a lucrative place to start, upskilling can be pursued in any field or specialty, depending on your work goals. 

Ensuring that you’re continuously learning and improving yourself will not only keep things interesting and fresh; a study by NCVER revealed how further training can lead to better self-esteem, productivity, and of course – employability and earning capacity. 

Additionally, pursuing new skills can uncover any hidden talents you might have, and possibly discover some new passions along the way.

Workers can choose to upskill through workshops or collegiate studies, but for those working on a tight schedule – a flexible, online course can work best to accommodate your needs. Online RTOs like Upskilled offer such options online, helping you acquire the further training you need while learning at your own pace, at your own schedule.  

3. Network with new people.

business people networking with each other

Perhaps your career rut has less to do with the actual work, and more to do with who you surround yourself with. 

Satisfaction from our daily work (and our overall happiness, in general) can heavily rely on our social connections: the better our relationships are, the happier in the workplace we’ll be. 

If you’re feeling unfulfilled, you may just need to connect with the right people. Engaging with a few new faces at work can not only expand your professional network – gaining you valuable contacts who may very well play vital role in your career growth – but your social network, too. 

A LinkedIn study from 2014 discovered that almost half of the workers surveyed (46%) believed having friends at work was a boost to their overall happiness. This provides you with a support system through all your workplace ups and downs; colleagues who can cheer you up on a stressful day and cheer you on through your achievements. 

Plus, knowing people have your back can do wonders for your confidence and productivity, making it “feel safer to take risks”, according to organisational psychologist, Dr. Michelle Pizer, in an interview with Executive Style Australia.

With such positive impacts to your work ethic, one can easily feel re-inspired in their current situation. Engaging with people of various professional backgrounds and experience levels can also expose you to new perspectives, ideas, and knowledge to further your career growth. 

4. Pursue something else.

man climbing mountain

If all else fails, perhaps it’s time to pack it in.

In extreme cases, the cause of your career slump may just be your entire career altogether. If your current work life is no longer compatible with your personal or professional needs, it’s probably time to seek that much-needed career fulfillment elsewhere.

At the Sydney Centre for Corporate Health, Director of Psychological Services Rachel Clements explains that unhappy employees should watch out for the “Three D’s”: Disillusioned, Disgruntled, and Discontent. 

Before making the big jump, it’s important to reflect on where your current role is headed, if you’ve got the drive to continue progressing, and if your efforts are appreciated well enough to stay. 

But if you notice your complaints start piling up, experience a recurring Sunday-night anxiety and feel like you’re on a dead-end path, listen to your intuition; it’s saying you’re due for a change. 

Switching jobs isn’t an uncommon practice in Australia, either. Over one million Australian workers changed employers or businesses in the last year, according to ABS statistics. Though reasons behind these changes vary, you aren’t alone in such a pivotal decision. 

5. Fear not, a career slump is only temporary.

motivation concept

Everyone’s bound to feel unsatisfied with their job every now and again. It’s important, however, to understand why – and take further action to remedy this. Whether it’s a lack of challenge, the need for new skills, or simply a desire to connect with new people; feeling that typical “slump” is nothing a little routine change can’t fix.

Ready to try something new?

As discussed above, those feeling “stuck in a rut” with work may just regain their motivation (and discover new interests!) through upskilling. Here at Upskilled, we offer over 80 qualifications in a wide range of industries that are sure to give you the skills upgrade you’re looking for. 

From honing your business and technological abilities to pursuing an entirely new field altogether – we’ll provide you with the ideal course online, delivered flexibly to suit your needs and commitments. 

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