When Careers Go….Sideways

Sometimes I have a client who is stuck. Stuck in a rut, stuck in a dead-end job, or stuck at the top of a ladder by themselves, with (literally) no backup supporting the ladder.

Today I met with a woman who has what on paper is a highly successful career in her industry. She has been with a company she loves for a long time, and she has had many promotions over time and climbed higher and higher within the organization.

Sometimes, that sounds like what we all want, but my point is that it’s not always what *everyone* wants. She doesn’t want the level of responsibility and pressure she finds herself at now.

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How to Move Forward When There Is No Up

Let’s take a look at my inbox. A question from a reader is as follows:

My college is – literally – the only higher ed game in town. And so even though I work in a staff job that I generally enjoy, there’s no upward mobility. I’ve been here for 3 years and I’m really ready to take on more challenging assignments. I’m in my early 40s and at a place in my life where I just am not interested in getting another degree (already have 2 Master’s). I’m trying to be patient but I just don’t see it happening. The people who are the next level up from me have been here for at least 8 years. What would you recommend?


I can already hear many of my readers nodding their heads. I know I can relate. In my last organization, I put in 8 years and still wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at. And the people who were in the job title I wanted? They’d been there 10+ years. I had proven my abilities – I had excellent performance reviews and was clearly capable of the next level of responsibilities. There just wasn’t a job above me to be given to me. Ultimately, I wasn’t willing to wait it out yet another couple of years…so I left.

So that would be option one.

Moving on to another organization.

You should do this only after you’ve 1 – made clear your desires to your boss, and 2- made a strong case for your abilities to take on something new. Repeatedly. Because it’s not fair to duck out on a boss / organization if “but I want more challenging work, and I deserve the chance” would be news to them. You need to give them the chance to meet your demands.

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7 Career Building Gifts for Yourself

It’s that time of year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals… Right now everyone is looking for the best deals on something they’ve been hoping for. I secretly think we’re all out shopping for ourselves, rather than for someone else…but maybe that’s just me and I’m a bit too selfish. 🙂

But this time of year isn’t just the time of year to think about tangible gifts for your personal life. It’s also a good time of year to think about your professional development. Whether you have career wanderlust, feel content or restless at your job, why not use this time of year to think of ways to give your career a boost? 

Your Career is Worth Investing In

Here are 7 gifts you could gift yourself to make your career feel fresh, to re-engage with your work, set yourself up for pursuing more challenging tasks next year, or just investing in yourself.

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Thoughts on credentials

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about credentials. For the first few years after I started working full-time in a new field, I was relishing *just* working. I finally had some semblance of work-life balance and had no reason to consider building up my credentials. My existing credentials had gotten me in the door and then the quality of my work itself was good enough to not just keep me there, but to get me promoted a couple of times early on.

But it’s not just that I was fine leaving well enough alone. I also had a certain, well, attitude about it. I refused to consider another degree or a certification. I felt strongly I had already done more than my fair share of time as a student.

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Credential Regret: It’s a Thing

When you work in an academic line of work, at some point, you may find yourself facing credential regret.

Credential regret is the career form of opportunity cost (an economic concept in which making one choice prevents the gain you could have gotten from selecting another alternative). Credential regret is that sinking feeling that your time spent pursuing a Ph.D. or J.D. would have been gotten you farther along in your current career by simply working instead, putting in time on the job. You would be farther along – professionally, and even financially – had you used that time to simply climb the ranks in your current job family from the get go.

I would love to be able to tell you that your conclusion is probably incorrect, but the reality is that most employers – even higher ed employers – usually place greater value on the length and nature of work experience than on advanced degrees. Here are 2 points to help you understand credential regret.

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