11 Signs You're In A Dead-End Job & What To Do

You find yourself sitting at the same desk for years, with no talk of promotion. You put in extra hours, and no one ever notices. You chat with your boss about your goals, and she doesn't seem to care. These are all signs that you're in a dead-end job, and it can really suck.

Because when it comes to careers, most of us have a decent amount of ambition. Whether you'd like to make a bit more money, or you plan to take over the whole place and become CEO, I'm sure the idea of "movin' on up" has hit home at some point. So it can feel really frustrating when your job has stagnated, and every day feels pointlessly the same.

This can happen for any number of reasons. Maybe there are simply no positions open (and maybe there never will be). Maybe your awesome skills are being ignored by a careless boss. Or maybe you've found yourself in a career that simply isn't a good fit. Whatever the case may be, it's not a good idea to sit idly in a dead-end job. Here are some signs you have found yourself stuck in one, as well as what to do about it.

1. All Your Bosses Seem Pretty Comfy

Take note if your boss has been in her position for-ev-er. "While this isn’t necessarily the mark of a dead-end job (you never know when someone could make a sudden exit from the company or a position), [it should] raise some concerns if you’re hoping to move up the ladder sooner rather than later," said Katie Douthwaite Wolf on

What To Do

You should consider doing some sideways movement within the company, perhaps towards different departments that have more room for growth, according to Wolf. Or, be a total badass and create a brand new position for yourself within the company (boss-willing, of course).

2. Your Boss Doesn't Care About Your Goals

Since he or she will be calling all the shots, it's definitely not a good sign when your boss doesn't give a crap about your goals, according to Terence Loose on Without her on your side, you really can't expect to move up.

What To Do

Consider throwing in the towel. "If you’ve made your career goals clear to your boss and you’ve been with the company for more than a year but nothing has changed, it might be time to move on," Loose said.

3. The Company Is Super Old School (In A Bad Way)

Time and time again, you've suggested new ways to do things. And each time, you've been met with some pretty hardcore rejection. Not only is this bad news for the company (which clearly doesn't want to grow or expand), it's really bad news for you.

What To Do

If you've been trying to get your boss to create a Twitter account, and he just keeps shaking his stodgy head, then it may be time to put all your motivation elsewhere. "Use your energy in a more productive way, to advance your own career and mission," suggested Liz Ryan on Forbes. It'll be energy better spent.

4. You Don't Want To Move Up

When you really think about it, the thought of getting promoted or taking on more responsibility sends icy shivers down your spine. "Or, maybe you aren’t willing to commit to the extended hours or travel required of those roles, or you're not passionate about the company’s mission," Wolf said. This lack of desire might be a sign it's time to look into a different career field.

What To Do

Get online and start researching jobs in a field that sounds exciting, and start taking note of what's required for those jobs. Then start heading in that direction.

5. The Company Only Hires Outsiders

In a perfect world, companies would only hire from within. But more often than not, it seems they are more than willing to fill open positions with near perfect strangers. "If this happens regularly, it could be a red flag that management subscribes to the philosophy of looking outside the company for 'new blood' with 'fresh ideas' when it comes to opening positions," Loose said.

What To Do

You can play the same game, and swoop into open positions at other companies. Or, you can try to move laterally in your company. "Ask other employees in other departments what their experiences have been, however," Loose warned. "There’s no sense in leaving one dead-end position for another."

6. You're Never Offered New Opportunities

Putting in the time and effort should eventually lead you somewhere — a promotion, a raise, more responsibilities. When that's not the case, work can quickly become boring and unfulfilling. And you might even find that your resume is gathering dust. "In short: Without new opportunities, your career is at a standstill," Wolf noted.

What To Do

Do whatever you can to snag new challenges. "Don’t ever be afraid to ask for more responsibility," Wolf said. Even just asking shows you're taking initiative, and this will hopefully lead you somewhere good.

7. You Hate Your Job With A Burning Passion

Or, you just don't really see yourself doing this thing forever. Either way, disliking your job isn't a good sign.

What To Do

Start brainstorming new careers. Write down what excites you, and what would get you leaping out of bed in the morning. Then make moves to chase after that job, instead.

8. Other People Leave All The Time

It's not a good sign if your coworkers are dropping like flies. But it's an even worse sign when the leaders of the company have accepted that fact, according to Ryan. It show that they don't care about their employees, and will probably never be willing to create a better work environment.

What To Do

Take a hint. "Pull out your resume and add to it whatever shards or fragments of good results you’ve been able to squeeze out of your current assignment," said Ryan. Then hit the old dusty trail.

9. You're Only In It For The $$$

Yes, we all need money. "Financial security is obviously important, but if the only thing you like about your job is the pay check, then it’s probably time to move on," said Kristine Tuazon on

What To Do

Again, it's time to start making vision boards and pro/con lists to see what it is you really want out of life. Once you figure out your passion, it'll be easier to see what job you'd want to do, no matter the paycheck.

10. Your Skills Are Going To Waste

You didn't sit through four years of college for nothing. And you certainly didn't have those three internships for funsies. (Or, maybe you did.) My point is, you put a lot of time and effort into gaining skills and educations, and now it's going to waste.

What To Do

"Try to come up with a new twist on the mundane tasks assigned to you," Loose suggested. This will show your boss that you are awesome and talented and totally worthy of a raise.

11. The Place Has Unreasonable Expectations

Careers are hard work, and a good boss will recognize that. He or she will be all about raises, and making sure you get out of the office before sundown. A bad one, however, may ask too much, and have you coming in on Saturdays Office Space-style. As Tuazon said, this simply won't do, as it is unacceptable for managers to have you at their 24/7 beck and call.

What To Do

Obviously, an overwhelming work life can't go on forever — especially if you aren't being properly compensated. If that's the case, chat with your boss about having more reasonable expectations. If they aren't willing to budge, it may be time to move on.

And unfortunately, that's often going to be the solution for most of your dead-end job woes. Sometimes it's possible to shift around in the company, flaunt your skills, and eventually get noticed. But if you honestly don't think that will be the case, don't be afraid to grab your stapler and run.

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