Downturn doesn't mean career's kaput

By Charles Strachey

August 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Sometimes the career ladder is lateral

Dear Working Wise:
I’m feeling bored and burnt out at my job, but I can’t leave because there are not a lot of other jobs right now. What can I do to feel better about my career?
Signed, Burnt Out

Dear Burnt Out:
The economy may have slowed down, but that doesn’t mean your career has to lose momentum.
You might want to try career laddering to inject some excitement back into your work day.
Career laddering is simply looking for career opportunities that fit the needs of your organization.
Career laddering can help you:
• Gain new skills and use more of the skills you enjoy
• Make changes that lead to recognition and promotion
• Meet new people and develop your network of people
• Build a better fit between your work and personal life
• Increase your job satisfaction.
First, think about where you are and where you want to be:
• What do you like about your work? What are you good at? Are you using those skills?
• What attracted you to your current job or organization? Has anything changed since?
• Does your job reflect the training and experience you’ve gained since you started?
• Does your job support changes in your personal life, e.g., marriage, parenthood, etc.?
• Does your work conflict with your values?
Second, think about changes that could increase your satisfaction at work:
• Job carving: can you redesign your job so you’re doing more of the work you find
• Lateral move: can you move into another position that interests you more?
• Training: can you upgrade your skills so you can make a lateral move or qualify for a
Taking action is a great way to shake off the frustration of feeling trapped.
• Be on the lookout for on-the-job learning opportunities, acting or developmental roles, and chances to learn new skills through cross-training.
• Change-up your day-to-day work by offering to coach junior staff or get involved in special projects or long-term planning.
Take on new challenges, volunteer for projects or to work at a different location—anything to expand your skills and experience.
Maintain your network of contacts both inside and outside your organization to help you discover potential new career directions.
Third, talk to your boss about the changes you have in mind.
Your supervisor may be more open-minded and flexible than you think—especially if your ideas fit with their needs and the needs of the organization.
Aligning your job and career with your values, passions, lifestyle and long-term goals will help you shake those negative feelings and renew your enthusiasm about your job and your future.
For more information, read the ALIS tip sheet on Career Laddering at
Good luck!

Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services.

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