Stuck in Career Quicksand While Everyone’s Rock Climbing?

Sep 20, 2023 | Job Search

Stuck in Career Quicksand?


Ever scrolled through LinkedIn and thought, “Did everyone eat magical career beans and I missed the memo?” If you’ve been sporting the same job title since neon scrunchies were a thing, you might be experiencing the notorious career plateau.

Good news: You’re not alone. Bad news: Nobody’s handing out magical career beans. However,  there are proven ways to shimmy up that ladder or, at least, find a fancier plateau.

If you’re ready to swap your career quicksand for some climbing gear, stick around. Grab your helmet and let’s dive in.


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

First, welcome to the age-old art of self-reflection. It’s a bit like talking to yourself, but without the strange looks from colleagues.

First, do a stock-take of your skills. What’s in your career toolkit? Identify the assets and the “areas of potential growth.”

Then, look to the future. Where do you see yourself? What’s your career endgame? Dust off your dreams, sharpen your ambitions, and be honest about any detours you’ve taken to the vending machine instead of the boardroom. 

In short: Figure out where you’re going, plot the route, and maybe, just maybe, stop to ask for directions if you get lost.


Take Charge of Your Career Path

Let’s be real – your boss isn’t a mind reader. So, if you’re waiting for a tap on the shoulder signaling your time to shine, you might be waiting a while. It’s time to be proactive.

Arrange a chat with the higher-ups. Articulate your desire for fresh challenges and showcase your readiness. Ask for feedback and genuinely listen. Seeking guidance shows that you’re not only keen to move up but are also vested in shaping your path right.

In taking this step, you’re signaling commitment, drive, and a willingness to engage. Remember, clarity often comes from dialogue. Think of it as recalibrating your career GPS for a smoother ride up that corporate hill.


Skill-Building: Your Corporate Elevator

Scaling the corporate structure isn’t just about tenure; it’s about having the right tools in your belt. Start by mapping out where your skills stand vis-à-vis where they need to be. Spot the gaps? Time to dive into some training or courses.

By actively up-skilling and cross-skilling, you’re sending a clear message: you’re not just looking for a higher view, but you’re willing to build the ladder rung-by-rung to get there. And don’t just stop at courses—seek out projects or assignments that allow you to flex and polish those newfound skills.

Think of it as turning your professional toolkit into a veritable Swiss Army knife – versatile, sharp, and ready for any corporate curveball.


Navigating the Corporate Seas with a Mentor-Compass

Charting unfamiliar career waters? Consider finding your own personal career compass – a mentor. This isn’t just about getting a GPS; it’s about having a seasoned co-captain on board.

A mentor is that wise owl who’s been there, done that, and perhaps even designed the company T-shirt. By aligning with someone who embodies your career aspirations, you’re equipping yourself with a firsthand guide. They don’t just offer guidance; they can unlock doors, introduce you to the movers and shakers, and even spotlight areas you might’ve overlooked.

Think of mentorship as a dynamic dance – one where you learn the steps to a tune called ‘Career Progress.’ With their expertise in tow, you’re less waltzing in the dark and more tangoing towards success.


Casting Your Career Net(work)

Here’s the not-so-secret sauce to career mobility: networking. Think of it as the Wi-Fi of professional growth—without a strong connection, you might find your career buffering.

Instead of merely refreshing your LinkedIn feed, dive deep. Attend those industry events you’ve bookmarked, become a card-carrying member of relevant professional groups, and don’t just collect business cards—forge genuine connections. By mingling with the trailblazers, innovators, and fellow journey-takers, you’re not just expanding your circle; you’re gathering insights, tips, and potential opportunities.

In essence, networking is like attending a never-ending career carnival: a place to discover, learn, and unlock paths you didn’t know existed. So, gear up, get out there, and make some career magic happen.


Your Career’s Highlight Reel

Imagine if your career had its own “greatest hits” album. That’s where documenting achievements comes in—it’s like curating your professional chart-toppers.

Don’t let those applause-worthy moments get buried in the sands of time. Whether it’s a commendation from a client, a project that soared, or that genius idea that boosted the bottom line, jot it down. Think of these as golden tickets when updating your resume, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile.

After all, in the grand theater of work, it’s not just about doing the job; it’s about showcasing those encores. It’s your chance to say, “Here’s the proof, world! I’m not just here to play; I’m here to slay.”


The Sidestep

Who said the only way is up? Sometimes, the secret dance move in the career waltz is a suave sidestep. Yep, we’re talking about lateral moves.

Think of it as swapping your office view, not necessarily for a higher one, but a refreshing change of scenery. Diving into a new department or role isn’t just a novelty; it’s a chance to deck out your skillset wardrobe with some new professional attire. Besides acquiring shiny new skills, you’re mingling at different water coolers, forming bonds with a diverse set of colleagues.

So, before dreaming solely of skyscraping heights, consider the enriching detours. It’s not just about climbing the ladder; sometimes, it’s about finding a new ladder altogether.



Taking Your Career’s Temperature

Is your workplace climate helping or hindering your growth? It’s more than just whether the office plants are thriving; it’s about evaluating the soil they’re in.

Dive deep into the nuances of company culture. Does the water cooler chatter sound more like collaborative symphonies or monotonous echoes? Assess the career ladder: is it a clear path upwards or a never-ending M.C. Escher print? 

If your professional environment feels more like a career cul-de-sac than a superhighway, maybe it’s time to pack your skills, grab your ambitions, and navigate towards a landscape that matches your growth blueprint. Sometimes, changing the scenery is the real game-changer. 



Feeling like your career is stuck in quicksand? Consider it a nudge to pull out the professional toolkit. Remember, plateaus are nature’s way of telling you there’s a panoramic view ahead if you climb a bit higher.

Make a move and if you need support, contact ECP to get career support that’s proven.

Patrick Lage

Written By: Terri Wiksten, Chief Operating Officer

Terri Wiksten is a dynamic powerhouse who works harder than anyone you know and tackles every task with 100% effort while maintaining her enthusiastic, cheerleader attitude!

She loves helping professionals save time and money as they search for their next challenge and thrives on how technology turned this industry on its head, allowing for constant change and opportunity to do things better and more effectively for our clients.