Are You in a Dead End Job?

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No one wants to be stuck in a dead end job.  Initially, you might think they're the go-nowhere jobs usually taken by people with very little education or non-US citizens. Positions like file clerk, food service preparers and retail “associates” come to mind.  


But there are higher end jobs that fall into this category.  And the unfortunate part is, these jobs may initially be presented as upwardly mobile positions. Employers eager for warm bodies to fill these jobs won’t exactly advertise them as such. And many Horatio Alger types who’ve worked their way up from zero to hero will insist there’s no such thing. But that was then and this is now—when the competition for fast track careers is fierce,  and you don’t want to waste a lot of time in a go-nowhere post. 


So how do you know if you’re in a dead end job?  Some warning signs:

  • No promotion/No transfer. You’ve been working your tail off, meeting deadlines and putting in the 12-hour days and weekends to get out those TPS reports. But you’ve never been offered a promotion or transfer to another department. You’ve made it known that you’re eager and ready to move up or over to another group—with still not a peep from your boss. It’s time to read the tea leaves and leave. 
  • Salary “capped.” There’s no higher salary range or pay grade for your position.  You’ve reached the apex of your job classification  and you’re salary capped out.  You’ve been on the job for several years and have received “chump change” salary increases.  You’ve gotten a lot “attaboys” to keep you from leaving, but there’s no “light at the end of the tunnel.”  Time to polish up the old resume.
  • Sameo-sameo.  Day in day out, week in week out, you’ve had the same responsibilities for several years now. Like a time traveler in a time machine, everything around you has changed—new people, new systems, new bosses even. But lucky you, you’re still responsible for just one thing—getting out that same old TPS report. Your job is repetitive, essentially non-rewarding. You’ve asked for more responsibilities, you’ve shown you’re willing and capable, but the boss keeps putting you off. Time to move on. 
  • Ever-shrinking department. Your department is constantly being downsized. The only names on your department’s organization chart are you and your boss.  And he’s been there since the Ark docked.  Your cubicle keeps getting smaller, and one day, you’re steps away from the hand blower in the men’s room. Time to make some phone calls. 

In today’s highly competitive global economy, jobs come and go quickly. If you’re a driven individual with education and experience, there’s no need for you to settle for a dead end job. So carpe diem—and good luck. 



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  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Good comment, AO.  Thanks.
  • Amit
    This also goes way back to the resume -- soft sklils are rarely listed on the resume, but as you go through the interview process, the job sklils are a given and the soft sklils are not.This post is spot on in that the candidate doesn't get the job and the comments are that "I could do this job in my sleep." Candidates completely miss that when you are interviewing with hiring managers, the purpose is less about the job sklils and much more about your motivation and fitting into the corporate culture.
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