Snap Out of a Career Slump

Bored? It’s time to shake things up and learn some new skills.

If you don’t actively pursue new opportunities, your earning potential can suffer. While annual raises often stay steady year-over-year, prospective employers are often more open to giving you a bigger salary bump. The impact is that those who stay at the same employer for more than two years on average make about 50 percent less over their lifetime, according to Forbes.

But fear not. Here are three steps to help you develop the skills that will help you reach the next rung on the career ladder.

Know Where You’re Going

Sometimes a slump is a sign that you need to clarify your career goals. One option is to identify your dream job and then isolate the skills and experience you need to land that position.

“Find that niche in the professional world that really fits you as a human being,” says Urs Andelfinger, PhD, CMMI Associate, professor of software engineering and business information systems at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Darmstadt, Germany. “Hopefully, you find a job where you can live authentically, where you feel your contribution makes a difference.”

Assess Your Skills

Once you have a clear destination in sight, you can begin to chart your path forward. To outline an effective professional development plan, start with an honest skills assessment. This can be as simple as examining your daily work habits. To better understand your skill set and how you might develop it, compare the tasks that excite you to those you tend to avoid.

Assessing his own strengths, for example, helped Mr. Andelfinger realize he should work in an area where academic research and development intersects with industrial application. And that led him to his current position in applied sciences.

“Try to find out what your real strengths and weaknesses are,” he says. “The results of that analysis are a good indicator of where your personal place in the professional world might be.”

Watch the Market

To make sure you’re armed with the most in-demand skills, keep an eye on the business landscape—and be ready to adapt.

“In the IT field, it’s imperative to keep an eye on industry developments,” Mr. Carvalho says. “I then match my skills against what the market is looking for.”

Jose Marcelo Carvalho, a project manager at Matrix Solutions, an IT provider in Jacksonville, Florida,USA, tracks trends by reading trade magazines and following online discussions about the future of the IT sector. Mr. Carvalho also networks with his industry colleagues to stay abreast of what’s happening at other companies.

“In the IT field, it’s imperative to keep an eye on industry developments,” Mr. Carvalho says. “I then match my skills against what the market is looking for.”

And if he spots a gap, he knows it’s time to hone some new skills by taking classes and earning professional certifications.

To keep your career moving in the right direction, explore CMMI’s training and certification programs. Showing initiative and staying informed will help you prepare for your next dream job.

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