What to Do When Stuck in a Career Rut

Do you feel excited about going into work?

Naturally I doubt any of you feel that buzzing excitement of going to work on a regular basis, anyone with that level of enthusiasm may well be an indication of potential issues on the horizon. However, should you feel a dread in your stomach as you travel to the office akin to going into school on exam day then it’s probably something of a warning sign. If you’re not happy at your job then there are always tell-tale signs.

Once you have identified that feeling of unease at work, you will then need to dig deeper into the gritty detail:

  • What is it specifically that’s dragging you down?
  • Is your commute too arduous?
  • Do you feel bored by a lack of interesting things to do?
  • Are you overwhelmed by a cumbersome workload?
  • Is there a negative or unconstructive work environment?
  • Distinct lack of development opportunities?

Or consider the notion that it may well be something related to your role itself. Over the course of an average work day think about what it is you enjoy and what you find slightly less fun and motivating. What’s the highlight of the time you spend at work and what steps can you take to capitalise on it?

For instance, if you really enjoy mentoring more junior colleagues is there any way you can get more involved in training them? Feeling a bit stuck at work doesn’t necessarily mean that a complete change is called for. There may well be plenty of internal opportunities you hadn’t previously considered. Could you move to a different team? Take on some alternative clients or projects? Your company might well be crying out for someone to assume the precise responsibilities you’re craving for, whilst also allowing for fresh perspective. For instance if you’re an account executive working for a medical communications agency maybe see if there’s the opportunity for you to try your hand at a medical writer role?


The next step is to talk it out. Friends, family and even former colleagues definitely ought to be your first port of call for a sounding board, you never know what another viewpoint could provide. It also might be obvious for me to say at this point, but talking to a recruiter can be very helpful indeed. Find someone you can trust to have an honest conversation about current and future opportunities. Remember, you’re in charge – a reputable recruiter won’t send your CV anywhere without your permission. I can’t attest for all recruiters but here at MedComms Professionals we aim to provide whatever advice and help we can for you to progress your career and be happy in your job role.

Also try to promote yourself professionally while not necessarily making job applications, take advantage of LinkedIn and its messaging functions, meet people for coffee (or tea) and maybe even attend some networking events. Sites like Eventbrite list all kinds of events, roundtables, meetings and a lot of them are free to attend and talk to other professionals within your field.

These conversations will not only help you to scope out the market but also to figure out your priorities:

  • Would you be prepared to take a pay cut for less travelling time?
  • Are you looking for room to climb the career ladder?
  • Is there something holding you back from making changes?
  • Do you crave somewhere with more benefits or job security?
  • Are you worried about losing your job?

Then there is the comfort factor. Even if you’re bored or unfulfilled, chances are if you’ve been doing the same job day in day out for years or months you’ll have become pretty good at it without even realising. At this point it is quite easy to feel as though you are stagnating and begin to lose motivation without being aware of it happening. Well, the good news is you will still be able to make use of those skills in a new or even slightly different role, you would be surprised at what skills can be translated.

Once you’ve had time to sort things through in your own head you can start mapping out your goals. Even if the eventual end point is a new high flying job in a completely different industry you can make it happen as long as you break things down into realistic and achievable steps. Flexibility is key. For example, you’re probably not going to be able to get a pay rise if you’re considering a sideways move. You may even need to dip your salary expectations a little.

You can converse with your line manager if there are improvements you can make with regards to your day to day duties or your work environment. Odds are, they’ll want to keep you around and will want to make things better for you if they can.

Even if a change at work isn’t on the cards for you at the moment there are plenty of other things you can do. Get back into hobbies and/or side projects, something you can get excited about. This can be everything and anything from training for a marathon to volunteering to redecorating to an educational course in something you’ve always wanted to do. I know every day I’ve got my blog to do and I can always dig out one or two of the old scripts/chapters/miscellany paraphernalia haunting my digital bottom drawer. It is always worth thinking laterally about your situation, take an indirect and/or creative approach. Attending a new history of medicine exhibition in London could be just what you needed to reinvigorate your passion for medical communications.

How about a holiday? You might need a day off where you haven’t scheduled anything in particular to do. It can have quite the meditative effect, you can sit, relax and have some time to think or just sit and stare at the walls. Or a slightly longer break might be just what the doctor ordered, a chance to get away and see some exotic and far off sights. Recognising that changes need to happen for you to be happy is a powerful thing. It doesn’t mean that you have to rip your life apart. At least not straightaway.

If you are still feeling like you are lost on your career path, we can provide advice and guidance as well as assist you with your next step. Not to mention our website contains a wealth of information and resources but please feel free to contact us on 0118 959 4990 or you can email me directly on rosalind@clinicalprofessionals.co.uk


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