How to Break Free of Career Stagnation

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



Career stagnation is both a position and contribution plateau that occurs in most professions across all industries.

When you hit a plateau, there is limited (or even no) upward movement within the company.

Positional stagnation is, in most cases, caused by a lack of opportunities within the organization.

Contribution stagnation occurs when there is inaction in one’s skills and abilities.


The possible causes

Causes of career plateau can be both subjective and objective. Personal causes are linked to self- perception, and confidence.

When you perceive that you have reached a career cul-de-sac, your career can be affected to a point where your conviction becomes self-fulfilling.

At the same time, the employees who might appear to be worse off are not necessarily in a dead end.

Some even believe that a flatter section of your career advancement curve can be healthy and pivotal in your holistic development.

The period of sluggishness could be a chance to master new work skills or pursue special interests. These plateaus can be leveraged as a launchpad for greater achievements and a skyward projection.

But, if not handled properly, career stagnations can be a malediction.


Signs to look out for

These may be early signs that you are slowly becoming expendable! Be very careful in how you proceed.

  • Marginalized roles
  • Being repeatedly skipped-over in promotions
  • Low job satisfaction rates
  • Waning influence


Top Career Mistakes

Somewhere in your career path, you mismanaged things.

These are the common pitfalls observed in professions across various industries:


1. Loss of focus

Did you lose passion and focus? This happens when you suddenly forget why you are doing what you are doing.

You probably had personal goals and plenty of innovative ideas when you first walked into the organization.

Heck, you might have even tabled a groundbreaking idea in your first year of employment.

Then slowly, you became just another cog in the machine. What happened?


2. Ineffective networking

Networking is the lifeblood of career advancement.

Positions may exist within or outside of your organization, but who do you know? How well do you know them?

You have to know someone to get somewhere. Baby Boomers might never get this mantra, but it is the new reality for many of us today.


3. Allowing growth pipelines to run dry

You probably used to ask for more responsibilities. You volunteered for projects and goals outside your job description.

This helped to steer your advancement, and you won favor with management.

Did you stop? Do you now complain so badly when you have to report to work earlier and leave later than five?


4. Not investing in professional development

In the first few years of your career, your mind is fresh. Knowledge from college is at your fingertips, and it is still relevant in the industry.

But things change; technology advances, regulations are amended, and new concepts are adopted to do things better, faster, and cost-effectively.

If you are not thinking about professional certification or a second degree five years after college, you might soon deteriorate and become useless to your organization.


Get Things Moving with These Strategies


1. Evaluate your current job

  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do they play a role in your career growth?
  • What about opportunities and threats?
  • Which new skills do you need to learn?
  • What new approaches to execution must you adopt?


2. Re-skill and up-skill yourself

Are you good with tech and data? You should be tech-savvy. At this age, learning to work with a computer is not enough.

Having some basic programming skills, at least, to quickly work with data for efficiency and value.

At the same time, soft skills such as communication and leadership are critically essential to career advancement.


3. Bring it up with your boss

Does your boss know that you are interested in a promotion? If they don’t know, then don’t expect to get one.

As you read this, a colleague of yours has already made their case.

They have presented a plan of growth and how they would add more value to the organization when they get promoted.

Talk to your boss. And don’t walk into that office empty-handed to demand a raise or promotion.

Go with a 3-page plan that shows what you have done and what you can do.


4. Take a break

Sometimes new skills and networking don’t help to revive a career. These are times when you need to look inward.

A break helps. Go on a vacation to take things into perspective.

Do you need to change jobs or change careers?

Are you passionate about your job as before, or do you need to find a new challenge?

You will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when you come back, ready to kick things up a notch.


5. Plug into a professional network

If you are not in a professional network, you are missing out. Consider the GARP network for FRM professionals; this is where everything happens.

You get your news, you go to events and meet experts, the big names of the industry.

This can be your platform for keeping your knowledge and skills updated, getting noticed by your future boss, or getting connected to your future workplace.

Join a network and actively participate in it.


6. Participate in a new activity

Follow your passion. Let’s say you are a finance professional that is passionate about the environment; you can moonlight for environmental charities, assisting them with accounting or risk management.

The more love you generate for your passion and skills, the better you become at it.


7. Market yourself

Are you on LinkedIn? How active and marketable is your LinkedIn profile? That is just an example.

Even when your career is an upward trajectory, never neglect to market yourself.

Keep your portfolios active. When you meet new clients, talk about yourself and your accomplishments.

If you snooze, the world will forget about you.

Career advancement requires new skills, new goals, new people, and new motivation. Use these ideas to get things moving!


Thank you!

Thanks for reading. Try the following links for even more information:


Let’s get moving,

The QuestionBank Family