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by R. Karl Hebenstreit | March 10, 2009

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I'm getting that restless feeling. I've been in the same job for a few months (or maybe a year or more) and now realize that I'm bored and unchallenged. There's nowhere to move laterally and the only place to advance is my boss's job ... and s/he has no plans of moving! What do I do?

This scenario will usually play itself out in smaller companies that may not have as many opportunities or career paths as larger companies might. But keep in mind that this limitation can also be an advantage. You can use this type of situation to expand your role and take on new responsibilities in other areas to develop a more robust repertoire of skills and experience.

So what's my first step?
If you have a good rapport with your coach, engage in a career conversation about the options available in your current department. Discuss complementary functions that need to be performed in conjunction with your current duties.

But my current management isn't flexible and forward-thinking enough to agree to provide this type of accommodation. Now what should I do?

It may be time to seek a position externally, especially if your values and beliefs do not match those of your organization.

So do I just quit?
Absolutely not. It is a truism that it's easier to find a job when you have a job. You won't exude, feel, or appear in a state of desperation. You can evaluate multiple opportunities and wait for the right one to come along without focusing on taking anything just to get a paycheck. Prospective employers won't wonder if you were fired.

Okay, I found what I think is the perfect job and can't wait to start!
Whoa! Hold your horses. Did you check out the company culture to make sure that what lies beneath the glitz and glamour of the recruitment and marketing brochures and wooing meetings reflects what really goes on inside the company? Did you look them up on Vault.com and talk to other employees within the organization? Did you make sure that you negotiated a fair, market-competitive salary? You may not get another chance to get this after you're working inside the system and its limitations.

Now I've really found the right fit for me and am ready to resign. I'm outta here!
Congratulations! But remember that this is really a small world and that you need to protect your reputation. Don't leave your current employer dangling. Take the high road and give your boss the appropriate two-week's notice in a polite and professional way, even if you think that you may be terminated on the spot. Leave your work as complete and transitioned as possible. Resist all temptation to sabotage anything or retaliate for any perceived inequities. Don't steal anything. Don't give your employer any ammunition that can come back to haunt you later on down the road when your roads cross. Believe me, sooner or later, they will.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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