Q: I landed a dream job in my field after college and it has been just OK. I like the company and my co-workers, but the work isn’t as creative or interesting as I thought it would be. I’ve been here two years now; should I be looking for a move? — Gregg, 25, marketing communications specialist
A: Explore ways to grow within your current role while you consider your options.
The first thing to consider is, what constituted “a dream job?” Let’s face it, there’s a lot of fluff in job descriptions that may have led you to have unrealistic expectations. And, while it’s true that all jobs are essential to organizational success, having input into, say, strategic direction may be limited in an entry-level role.
In this case, consider what attracted you to this role in the first place and look for ways to maximize it. Find your point of view as a professional and start incorporating it into your day-to-day work.
For example, you may be intrigued by the power of branding in communications. If you expected your role to be heavily focused on that, you will be disappointed if it’s a minor part of your responsibilities.
This may not have been a “bait and switch.” Often strategic visions fall victim to day to day pressures, so if you can bring the strategic to the forefront while getting the mundane tasks done, you will be a star!
Likewise, this may be something the firm wants, but may not know how to do. If your manager hasn’t figured it out, you won’t get much direction. Again, it may be up to you to jump-start this work.
On the other hand, your vision may have centered on the type of environment you would be in. Maybe you always hoped to be part of the bustle of a large organization. The downside is that jobs tend to be more specialized rather than open to diversity of tasks.
If you love the environment, then your next steps could focus on identifying the next role you’d like and demonstrating your ability to do it.
Build your network in the company by participating in company advisory groups, task forces and clubs. Show people that you are a good thinker and that you deliver when you make a promise. You will become a hot commodity when interesting new jobs come up.
Don’t be afraid to change. The best thing you can do is to know your options. And while you don’t want to change just for the sake of changing, stagnation is deadly both personally and professionally.
So look around! Keep an eye on job postings and get to know people in your profession. Look for a mentor who can help you consider your opportunities and aspirations.
Then, if you stay in your current role or at your current company, you are choosing to be there, rather than being stuck.
Finally, keep work in its proper place in your life. It won’t be the source of all satisfaction (at least, it shouldn’t be), so be sure to have lots of other satisfying things in your life. Then you can pursue meaning at work without desperation and with a sense of adventure.