How to Escape a Dead End Job

When you are at work, do you daydream about telling your boss off and then storming out of the building? Have you recently read an article about the worst jobs in the world and thought to yourself, “being an Elephant Dung Inspector wouldn’t be so bad.” If so, its time to find a new career.

Most people enter the workforce looking not only to make a living but also to make the most of their talents, skills and education. When we land jobs that don’t offer us the chances to do those things, we become discontent and anxious.

But even though you may be in a situation that is less than favorable, it can be hard to leave your situation in the hope of landing a better job. Because I’ve been in this particular predicament, I will show you how you can leave your dead end job and find the career that is right for you.

 

Reason to Leave: Why I left and you should too

Years ago I had a job that I was really excited about at first. It was an associate position for a very large company that had a history of helping young, ambitious employees get ahead. At the time, I was looking to make more money and find ways to advance my career and this job seemed to offer both.

What I didn’t realize was that this particular department didn’t necessarily follow the company formula of advancement and reward for hard work. I noticed this during my first week when I asked one of my supervisors,

Is there some sort of management training or career advancement courses that I can take?”

I got a strange look from her as if the question was in a language not yet known to humans. Then she replied, “I think there is something on the corporate online training website but I don’t know how to get there.” Strike one.

Months later, I became one of the top performing employees. Meeting all of my goals as well as finding new ways to improve the overall performance of my employees. My bosses recognized my potential and commitment to hard work and offered me an opportunity. It was a good news/bad news situation.

Good news. “We’d like to train you in an area that is vital to our process”, she said.

Bad news. “We’re not giving you a raise yet. We just want you to learn it for now in case the person who leaves is unavailable. But this will create opportunities in the future for you.” she promised.

Strike Two.

Time went by, and, even though I had gotten a few small raises and a minor promotion, I was unhappy and frustrated because I knew that I was capable of much much more.

It wasn’t until a Regional Manager from another region accidentally told me the type of position I would be able to hold in her region if I were there, that I knew that I would never get what I wanted from this job.

By this time I was on strike 10,000.

So I planned my escape. A put into place a plan that would enable me to land a job where I could use my talents and skills to the fullest on a daily basis and that would offer career and financial rewards for my efforts. I found that job and I excelled in it.

Here are a few clues that you may be stuck in a dead-end job:

No Growth Opportunities-Find out how long the supervisors and managers have been holding their positions. If they have been there for decades, it may be a while before you get a crack at moving up. A job that doesn’t find ways to promote good people is a job you want to stay away from.

Bosses Not Promoting from Within-This is a VERY bad sign. Management that makes it a habit of hiring outside of the department instead of promoting current employees is bad news for anyone wanting to advance their career.

Managers Not Encouraging New Ideas-Sometimes bosses are afraid of change. If you have new ideas or visions for the company that will help make money, save time, or create a better working environment, and those ideas get rejected, it’s time to seek new employment. There is nothing worse than getting your creativity and innovation squashed.

Not Paying You What You’re Worth-A job that will short change you what you deserve is not a job that will offer you many opportunities in the future.

Your Talents/Skills Are Being Wasted-If your talents, skills, and education are just bullet points on your resume that are collecting dust, then it’s time to seek new employment.

 

 

Escaping the Dead End

Create an Escape Route

Being stuck in a dead-end job is sometimes a blessing in disguise. If you’re stuck, now is a good time for you to take a good look at your life and what you really want to do with it. Would you like to go back to school to get that design degree that you started years ago? Maybe now is a good time to start that business that you’ve always wanted.

Whatever you want to do with your life, now is the time to develop a viable plan for it to happen. Within this plan, set up tasks with deadlines. For example, if your plan is to start your own business, plan the actions that will get things going, like “get business license” or “open a business bank account”. Have a deadline for each action. This will prevent you from making excuses for delaying your escape and it will ensure that things consistently move forward.

 

Seek the Help of Others on the Outside

If you are good at what you do, then your bosses probably won’t be eager to help you find another job. If that’s the case, you’ll need some outside assistance in order to make your escape.

When I wanted to leave my dead-end job, I started contacting as many people as possible who were where I wanted to be. I did not ask for a job, but I did ask for advice. As a matter of fact, more time was spent reaching out to others than applying for jobs.

Eventually, a District Manager asked to meet me in person to offer some advice. At the meeting she was impressed by me and invited me to apply for a job opening. I did, and within a week I got a call from Human Resources offering me the job. My new position was not only something I loved, but also, it offered several opportunities for growth. Something that was missing in my previous career.

All of this was made possible by my willingness to reach out. Networking is a potent tool for finding opportunities. Begin to find influential people who can serve as an example of what to do as well as what not to do.

If you want to leave your job to become an entrepreneur, begin to associate yourself with other entrepreneurs who have left their jobs and followed their dreams. Being around others who have done what you want to do will not only give you confidence, it will also give you access to a wealth of resources, experience, and information. Apply all of that to your escape plan and before you know it, you will be on your way out.

 

Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Outgrow Your Flower Pot

When people are unhappy with their jobs, they tend to put less into their work. Naturally, we want to give less effort, show up late, and withdraw from doing the best we can simply because, well, we don’t care. However, I am convinced that when we want to escape from a dead end job, we should put more into the job, not less.

If you’ve ever seen a plant that is growing larger than its pot, you may notice that the roots are desperately trying to stretch and expand. Sometime the roots will grow so large that they crack or break the pot that is now too small to contain the growing plant. This is the same approach you should have when trying to leave a dead end job.

As a person, you want to continually grow in skills, experience, and value. That growth will cause one of two things; a promotion because you have outgrown your current profession, or an opportunity to move on to another career that fits you. Just as a house plant that has grown too big to stay inside needs to be planted outdoors.

There are several reasons why this is so effective.

First, when you put more into the work, you will prove to yourself (and your boss) that you are more than deserving of a promotion, raise, etc. Second, by putting more work into your job, you are simultaneously building successful habits and sharpening your skills. This will come in handy when you are starting your new career.

And the third reason you should put more effort, not less, into your current job is so that you can add accomplishments to your resume. The more accomplishments you have on your resume, the more attractive you will be to a future employer. These accomplishments also come in handy when you are being interviewed for a job.

Look, even if you hate your job, you can still get some good use out of being there. Take as much skill, knowledge, and experience from your current job as you can. Then, bring those attributes with you, and use them as leverage to land the career you’ve dreamed of.

 

Make Escaping Your Second Job

If you are serious about escaping, then you’ll need to get aggressive with your search. Make finding another job-your other job. Commit all of your free time to finding a career where you can prosper financially, contribute consistently and be rewarded accordingly

The extra effort you give will make a huge difference in whether or not you are stuck in a job you dread. Because of this, it is important that you spend more time searching for a way out. Stay up a little later at night to post resumes online. Tell friends that you are looking to change careers and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities as well.

If you know exactly where you want to be, spend time studying and developing the skills you need to be successful in your new career. Become a student of success in the field and designate large amounts of time each day to the goal of escape.

Nobody likes the feeling of being trapped. Even though the point of having a job is to provide income to support yourself and your family, it doesn’t mean you should be miserable. Use these tips to plan your escape, and make your way to freedom!

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  • Alvin

    Man, I need to get another job. Thanks.

  • ralphjp

    Go for it!

  • Chris Dao-anis

    I so agree that we you are stuck in a dead-end job and you want to escape – while you are not out of it – make the most out of it. Instead of lessening your performance, increase your performance to increase your learning and value.
    In the end, it is about you living your fullest potential.
    Thanks for sharing, Ralph.

  • ralphjp

    Absolutely true Chris! I’m so glad you agree. That is the secret to training yourself to overachieve in your next profession as well. Even if someone doesn’t like where they are, they can build the skills and traits that will make them successful in later on. Great observation!

  • Adrienne

    Wow, I remember those days Ralph… I’m so glad they are behind me and I escaped corporate America. Of course I went about it all the wrong way but we live and learn.

    Your plan is much more logical and workable. You should never leave a position without having another one and all my working career I did just that.

    You should always connect with people who can give you advice or at least put you in touch with others that can help counsel you or introduce you to others. It sounds like your ambition benefited you in a great way and I’m so thrilled that it all worked out for you. Now you’re able to share your experience with others and help them learn how to do the same.

    Thank you for that.

    ~Adrienne

  • ralphjp

    Thank you Adrienne! Having a backup plan or job lined up is just a smart way to avoid adding unnecessary stress to the escape process.

  • Yeremi Akpan

    Nothing can be more frustrating than being trapped in a job without any prospect of growth. The phrase “dead end” really fits.

  • ralphjp

    I agree.

  • sue

    Thank you for this article and great ways to move forward. I shall be applying these actions.

  • Ex can maker

    I escaped on March 19, 2009!! I was in a dead end job from August 19, 2008 – March 19, 2009. A can factory. 12 hour shifts, no promotional opportunities or an opportunity to go back to college. Leaving there was the BEST day of my life. Since that date, my income is more than doubled of what I’ve earned at the can factory and I’ve attained my college degree this year!!

  • http://potential2success.com/ ralphjp

    Awesome!!! I love that you escaped and accomplished much more!! Keep going!

  • Ex can maker

    I just went back and re-read this article and it applied to me 100%!!!! Other people at the can factory were complaining about being stuck there but weren’t aggressively looking for anything else. I was looking for something every DAY! What made it difficult for me was the fact that I didn’t have a college degree. My military background helped me land a federal job which was a Mon-Fri gig which meant that it would be easier for me to continue college due to a workable schedule. If there is a job that someone truly HATES with all of their guts, they should do something about it instead of complaining. One co-worker of mine complained everyday at the can factory. I felt my talents going to waste there. I was formerly a fire fighter, can type over 88 words per minute and have had plenty of administrative skills obtained at another previous employer. I count my blessings to this day (almost 7 years later).

  • http://potential2success.com/ ralphjp

    Awesome!!!

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    […] my post How to Escape a Dead End Job, I spoke about something I called “out growing your pot”. The idea of outgrowing your pot is to […]