Workers at the top of their games tell Moneyish when they realized it was time to play the field and make new career moves.
Sooner or later, most employees outgrow their positions.
Take Jackie Williams, who just celebrated her sixth year as the health unit coordinator in a Florida hospital, where she’s grown so adept at aiding the ICU nurses by fielding calls, managing visitors and ordering supplies, that they call her “the mother bear.”
But she admitted to Moneyish that she’s just “not feeling it” anymore. “I asked myself if I was burnt out, but that’s not it. I love the people, and I love the field … but I’m frustrated and looking for more,” said Williams, 38.
She vented to a couple of trusted colleagues, who suggested that she apply to be an executive secretary in the hospital. “Multiple people at the company have told me I should learn more, including one person who, unsolicited, said, ‘I could see you running a doctor’s office,’” she said. “So this is something everyone else was seeing but me. I guess I have peaked.”
So she just signed up for a six-week $55 class that will hone her Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint skills to work toward that new goal. And now she’s excited to get to work again.
“I want to be more involved in the hospital,” she said. “And after being on the floor for so long … I feel that I could be a voice to bridge the gap between what’s happening in the units.”
Nintendo’s chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima has also decided that it’s time to level up. He announced that he’s stepping down in June, after his success with the Switch console helped the video game giant more than double its revenue to $9.7 billion.
Peaking in your career or in your position can be a good thing early on, experts told Moneyish. You’re more marketable because you’re confident, enthusiastic and at the top of your game. But that peak can become a plateau if you get so complacent that your field moves past your skill set. Or you can get bored working on the same types of projects over and over again.
Career Contessa founder Lauren McGoodwin says to pay attention to how coworkers and leaders in the company describe you. “Do they talk about you being a future leader there? Or do they say things like ‘we appreciate you here’ and ‘you’re an awesome worker bee?’” she asked. The former signifies you’re seen as a mover and shaker, while the latter implies you’ve topped out. “And are you getting your fair share of awesome assignments and opportunities to raise your profile at the company?” she added. “These are all great questions for self-reflection.”
If you realize you’re stuck, she suggests going to networking events and talking to new people, or taking art or coding classes, to shake things up. “I think sometimes we enjoy our work, but the routine takes over, which makes people feel bored or frustrated,” she said. “Trying new things can get your creative juices flowing.”
McGoodwin also recommends seeing what other job opportunities are available in other departments in-house before moving to another company. “People who have been working at one place for a long time forget the learning curve when you go to a new company; who the president is, where you go to get the things you need, the company language,” she said.
She has a friend who transitioned from being a Hulu recruiter to joining the streaming service’s marketing department, for example, by having informational lunches with people in other departments to feel out which one would be the best fit. “She would say, ‘I love this company. I want to stay here, but I don’t think recruiting is where I want to build the rest of my career,’” said McGoodwin. Or if you’re considering a move in-house, seek out other workers who have made similar transitions, and take them out for coffee to pick their brains on how they pulled it off.
Kasey Bayne rapidly rose in her company’s marketing department in her mid-20s, advancing from marketing coordinator to manager in just a few years. But she found the work repetitive.
“I had learned all that I could learn there and, and I was looking for what was next,” she said. So she left to pursue a career in sales, which meant starting at a lower level and salary than her old job. “Don’t be afraid to take a step back, especially if you want to try something new or get into a new field,” said Bayne. She now works in marketing at a tech company where she draws on both her sales and marketing experience, as well as doing some consulting work on the side.
And she added that each new job led to a bump in pay; peaking at your position can mean capping your salary, too. “If you stay at one organization forever, they get comfortable with you, and you’ll get a bonus here or a 3% pay increase there,” she said. But you often can leverage for more money when going for a new job or a new title.
And be patient. Amanda Ponzar, 41, from Washington, D.C. also felt stuck after eight years working as a communications director. “Every year I was pushing the repeat button, and I was so busy with all of the repeat projects that I couldn’t even add anything, like taking on a new job or responsibility on top of that,” she told Moneyish.
But it’s taken her four years and three jobs to find her perfect position as the chief marketing officer at a community health charity. “It might take a while to find something else that is a good fit, and that’s OK,” she said. “I’ve made a couple of changes, and now I’m in a really great role.”
McGoodwin added that you don’t have to shake up your position so fast if you are content. It took a lot of hard work to reach this sweet spot, so you should take some time to enjoy it.
“If you’re happy where you are, and you’re doing a great job, give yourself maybe three months to say, ‘I’m just going to spend this time being happy in my job,’” said McGoodwin, before reassessing whether you should shake things up. This could also be the time to work on side projects or personal passions that were tabled for your career advancement. “You probably won’t be happy like this many times in your life,” said McGoodwin, “so you may as well enjoy it.”
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