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In the "Wrong Job"? You Can Still Be on the Right Career Path

Joeli Katz profile image

Joeli Katz

A person walking on a road.

Are you currently working your dream job? If the answer is “yes,” then we’re thrilled for you! But if you’re like most of us, then chances are, you haven’t yet landed that “perfect” position. You may even feel stuck in a job that seems totally random and unrelated to your career goals—particularly now, as job options in your field may seem scarcer amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

But even if you’re not in the ideal role or organization for you right now, you can still gain valuable experience. In fact, your current gig may be exactly what you need to get you one step closer to your ultimate career goal. Here’s how to make your current job work for your future self.

It’s all about the transferable skills

We’ve all heard this one before. When applying and interviewing for different positions, it’s important to highlight the skills you bring from previous experiences. Although you might jump around throughout your career, exploring unrelated interests or taking on unrelated roles, each experience teaches you something.

When you’re going through the day-to-day activities at your job, it becomes easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. So if you’re feeling stuck or burnt out, check in with yourself. Think about the skills you have learned that can help you in the future. Ask yourself if there are specific skills you want to work on before you leave your current position, and then set a plan to make it happen.

Playing the networking game

The professional connections you make throughout your career may come back to help you in unexpected ways. Although you might not think of it as “networking,” the conversations you have and relationships you build with co-workers can be just as important in getting you where you want to be. It can take one conversation to spark a new idea you never considered, or one random connection to leverage you into a new project or position.

In addition to the co-workers you talk to daily, who else do you regularly connect with? Does your job put you in touch you with colleagues in other organizations? Do you interact with people whose jobs interest you? What you can learn from them?

Tailoring your role to your goal

This might take the most creativity. While it may be a stretch, how does your current role relate to your dream job? Take time to brainstorm whether there are opportunities to work on more of what you want. If you are just starting out in your career, your manager is likely aware you won’t be staying in the same role at the same organization for more than a few years. When appropriate, speak honestly with your manager about your goals and how they can help you achieve them.

Think about whether there is a project you’d like a larger role in, a specific responsibility you’d like to take on, or certain professional development opportunities you’d like to be a part of. If you can think about employing your skills in a long-term plan, even the most seemingly unrelated job can feel like the right fit for you now. 


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Joeli Katz profile image

Joeli Katz

Joeli has professional and volunteer experience spanning the fields of healthcare, education, local government, and the nonprofit sector at large. She is passionate about LGBTQ issues and advocacy. 

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