Career Exploration

3 Tips to Get Out of a Career Rut

For the first time since 2000, the unemployment rate is at 4 percent, which means the job opportunities available to you are endless. Now is the time to break free from your career rut.

I graduated from college two years ago. Like many others, I was clueless regarding my career path, but found a stable job as a retail manager. Although it wasn't the ideal job, the position paid well and gave me leadership experience with a large company. Knowing that I had student debt and would start facing bills along with the other realities that come with the post-college phase of life, the job sounded good enough. I settled. Unfortunately, the reality and poor fit of the job quickly set in—I realized that I wasn't getting what I wanted out of the job. AdobeStock_250670573

After a wearisome few months, I was stuck in a dead-end. I was miserable, had to work 65 hours a week, and felt extremely unappreciatedultimately, I was depressed. Since I was relatively new to the job, I knew it was too soon to start looking for other open positions. As a result, I decided to stick it out for an additional four months to reflect on the types of careers I felt I would be most interested in. I took this opportunity to conduct a lot of research, learn about different fields, and expand my skill sets in order to prepare myself to step out into other career options.

As I transitioned into my current job, these three tricks were particularly useful in helping me land a job that aligned with my goals and offered high levels of satisfaction:

1. Solidify Your Personal Goals 

Start by asking yourself if you are interested in taking on a different position in your current organization or are ready to take the leap to an all-new career. 

Whether you are seeking a promotion or are thinking about changing your career path, ensure that you gather insightful information and set personal career goals. Be sure to track your work accomplishments so that you can incorporate those skills into your promotion or career pivot.

In addition to vertical growth, think about a lateral movement into a different part of your company/organization. Although lateral movements may not bring a significantly bigger paycheck, they can open doors to new work environments, new skills, and new paths with upward mobility. A lateral move could bring tremendous job satisfaction and motivation without ever having to leave your current company.

In my case, the experience with my first retail manager job allowed me to learn about myself - the way I like to be managed, how I work as a leader of 100 team members, and what I want from an employer. However, I wish I could have avoided working at a job I disliked in order to learn what I truly wanted to do in life!

As a Birkman employee, we are required to take the Birkman assessment as part of the hiring process. The insight from my personality profile helped me to learn a lot about my interests and the tasks that are most likely to keep me motivated throughout the day.

My Birkman Career Exploration report clearly demonstrates that retail was not an industry that aligned with my personality. Below, you can see my score for sales and related job functions (a score of four out of ten is very low):

Birkman Employment Scores - Sales & Related

Now I am with Birkman as a Client Relations Coordinator and have never been happier. It is a great fit, and guess what? My Birkman results prove just that. As shown below, I have a 10/10 match with office and administrative support roles.

Birkman Employment Scores -  Office & Administrative Support

2. Seek Alternative Career Paths

Once you decide on a career path that aligns with your interests and goals, it's time to jump into your job search. The first, and possibly the most obvious, step in the job search is having a resume that perfectly reflects the skills and experience you have. The format and content matters and is the deciding factor on whether or not your resume ends up in the “yes” pile.

There are multiple ways to find jobs or recruiters. Utilize LinkedIn, your network, alumni, and job boards. Available jobs, company profiles, and connections within your network are at your fingertips with today’s technology.

It is easy to get noticed on LinkedIn by recruiters if you qualify for an open position. Sign up for LinkedIn Premium, or try the free-trial. This allows you to see how you stack up against other applicants, stand out to recruiters as a featured applicant, and see everyone who has viewed your profile for the last 90 days.

Another tip to keep in mind is to apply to as many jobs as possible - as long as the job fits your strengths and needs. Unfortunately, most companies won’t give you an update on your application process, so you could end up waiting months before you know if you are being considered or not. There is nothing wrong with juggling 10 or more applications. It will help ensure that you are keeping your options open. 

Birkman reports go over your job search stresses, tips on how to find and develop a support group, and key points to consider when assessing future roles or careers. This information will make your job search much easier because it makes you aware of the situations in which you'll perform at your best and others that my cause you stress.

3. Take On New Opportunities and Skills

Professional development is a great way to refine your skills or broaden your horizons. Companies may even be willing to support you financially on your professional development journey. Conferences, educational courses, online webinars, and certifications are all great options you can take advantage of.

Making an investment in yourself allows you to grow your network of professionals who are in your current or future industry, develop your skills, and build credibility.


Birkman is a guide that will assist you in your success with exploring different careers. The Birkman Career Exploration report examines your relational characteristics from multiple angles and uses that information to highlight key career areas that will provide you with the greatest potential for success.

By solidifying my personal goals, seeking an alternative career path, and taking on new opportunities and skills, I was able to successfully fulfill my needs. These three tips truly helped me take action to get out of the career rut that I was stuck in. I am not only satisfied with my current job, but I am happy to work with such a great company that has the capability to impact lives around the world. Because of these three tips, as well as the Birkman assessment, I am in tune with my motivators and interests.

Discover Your Strengths and Interests

While searching and working towards a career change may seem like a daunting task, finding clarity and affirmation on what professional fields you may be successful in can be exceedingly helpful. Using a robust personality assessment like The Birkman Method can help you discover your strengths, what fields you may be interested in, and what you need from your work environment to help you perform at your best. When exploring other career options, try taking a personality assessment to bring clarity to your search. 

See how Birkman brought clarity and guidance to a young man's search for a fulfilling and successful career in this
quick, one-minute video.

About the Author | Brittany Buxton Naething

With a Bachelors in Communications and Journalism from Texas A&M University, Brittany couples her experience in customer relations and passion for making a difference as she works within the marketing department. Outside of work, you can catch Brittany en route to new cities, soccer fields, or at any coffee shop. As Scottish royalty, you might also find her abroad enjoying the Scottish countryside.