Get Out! Dead End Job Alert!

Dead End

A dead end job is the single worst case scenario for your career. You might be a superstar employee, your coworkers and managers might love you, and you might be putting out some excellent work, but sometimes circumstances get in the way of advancement.

Picture yourself in 2 years, you’re in the same job and only received a 2% increase in salary. If you have any sort of ambition, this is not where you want to see yourself.

So, How Does a Good Employee Get Stuck in a Dead End Job?

When you’re young and ambitious, you hope to constantly move up on the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s a bunch of people a couple steps higher than you that stopped climbing and and aren’t jumping off the ladder anytime soon.

Take a look around your organization. Have your managers been there for a very long time? Do they look happy where they are at? Is there any upper management changing ranks? This is more common in small and medium organizations. If your superiors aren’t moving, how can you move up?

Most promotions come from someone leaving a position. If your manager isn’t retiring soon, and they are not moving up the corporate ladder, you might just get stuck sitting on the ladder.

Here are a couple more reasons that you might be stuck in a dead end job:

  • In small family businesses, sometimes the “family” gets first dibs on management positions, even if they didn’t earn them.
  • You have a chance to move into a new position, but you wouldn’t take the role if it was offered to you.
  • You’ve never taken on more responsibility in your current position

Let’s explore these in a little more detail.

Family Businesses

When you work in a family business, sometimes decisions are made based on family relationships instead of merit. Let’s say you’ve been working as a project manager for some time. You’ve done a good job, managed all your projects well, and on-time. You really wanted to move into the outside sales role that was opening when one of the senior guys retire in a couple months. Johnny, the bosses son is graduating college in a couple months, and the boss thinks that this would be a great learning position for him to learn the company and be positioned to take over the company when he retired.

All your hard work doesn’t matter in this situation. In family businesses, family usually comes first.

Would you Turn Down a Position?

Okay, who in their right mind would turn down a promotion? More money, more responsibility… Isn’t that the goal?

It depends on the person and their situation. Maybe you don’t like your current job or you don’t want to travel. Maybe you don’t like the organization or the management’s decisions. These are all valid reasons. Whatever your reason, if you don’t want to move up in your current organization, you are in a dead end job and it’s time to move on.

You Haven’t Gained More Responsibility

One of the hallmarks of all-star employees is that their responsibilities increase in their current roles. They start to take on work outside of their original scope, and the manager is happy to offload some of this work. This shows that the manager trusts the employee. It also shows that they are capable, willing, and primed to move into a higher position should one open up.

If you haven’t expanded your responsibilities and are still doing the exact same thing you were when you started, I’m sorry to say, it’s not looking good for you. You’re not gaining new skills or marketing yourself well within the organization.

Dead End Job

How do You Fix this Situation?

It’s time to take inventory of your career goals. What do you want to do with your career? It’s time to put on your big boy pants and decide on your next move.

If you’re stuck in a family business with no room for upward movement, it may be time to start looking for something else. Instead of getting mad and quitting, take the time to look for the perfect job while you’re still employed. This gives you the security you need to make the right decision in your next career choice.

If you wouldn’t take the promotion that is offered to you, it depends whether you are happy to stay in your current position or if you are ready for a change in career. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your job and not wanting to take on additional responsibilities such as managing a group of people. Do what makes you happy. On the other hand, if it’s because you are unhappy, it’s time to quietly look for another job or time to start acquiring the skills you need for your dream career.

Lastly, if you have not been given any extra responsibilities since you started, the best thing to do is ask! If your wish is granted, you might still have a chance. If not, it’s time to move on.


You only have a limited time to succeed in your career and dead end job is slowly wasting that time away. It might make sense to stay and gain a little bit of experience before moving on, but before long it’s time to finda new job.

Dead End Photo By: Scott Ableman / CC BY-NC-ND

About Paul Chittenden

JobKaster Co-Founder & Resident Career Expert

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply