Despite how hard you try, you’re just not great at your job. It’s not because your boss isn’t trying to help you succeed or because you’ve been sabotaged. No, in spite of lots of support, you’re just not a good fit. Sometimes you do OK, and very, very occasionally you do quite well, but no one is looking to promote you—and never will in your current position. In fact, you’ve been stuck in your job for some time and will either stay there or, if the company downsizes, get bumped.
Perhaps more important right now is that you’re unhappy in your work. That’s how it is for most of us—when things are going well, we’re happy, maybe even ecstatic; but when they’re not, we can find ourselves in the dumps. You probably haven’t seen a raise in a while either.
None of these scenarios—unhappiness, not performing well, having a cloud over your head that will certainly unleash rain if the company downsizes, and lack of economic growth—is one you want to be in. So, if after time and time again your work efforts produce less-than-favorable results, you need to be networking constantly to get to a better place in the world of work.
Notice I didn’t say “get a new job.” That’s because for this particular discussion, it’s not always about getting a new job right away—though certainly you may need to be considering a new line of work. The reality is that when you’re not doing well in your chosen field, the next place in your work journey will not always be so clear-cut.
That’s why networking is especially important for you. A friend or professional in your network—hopefully a large group of people that you have met in various situations along the course of your personal and professional life—can help you in many important ways that you may need right now beyond just landing a new job.
Good friends and great professionals (hopefully one and the same) may steer you away from another employment opportunity that is not a good match for you. They may be the voice of reason you need, the people who can objectively show you what you may need to do to improve in your current job or whether you should be looking for other types of work or even going back to school for new training. Generally speaking, we “hear” things like this better when they come from friends and/or people we respect and admire—people in our network who we know have our best interest at heart.
Once the professionals in your network, which should include mentors and could include a professional career coach, help you discern what your next work step should look like, then you may want to come back to them when you’re ready to send out resumes for work and/or letters of recommendation for academic programs.
As for work, you may be asking why I did not say to look for work in the classifieds, the job boards, and online job sites. Because you might find success with those, but the support of friends and professionals will likely result in better dividends toward finding the next position. First, when a respected insider recommends you for a job, you’ll have a better shot at getting your foot in the door for an interview than if you apply via an online portal in competition against hundreds of people. There is nothing better than a reference that comes from in-house.
More importantly, if the individual is a personal friend, you’ve likely shared with them what your work challenges have been, so they are more likely to clear a path for you toward a position for which you are better suited. They may even go a step further and explain to the hiring manager why you should be given a chance, perhaps in a job that differs from your old one. That type of support is not going to come from anonymous attempts to land work by way of an impersonal online portal.
So again, when you’re struggling on the job, tap into your network to attain clarity on your next step and for help in taking it. Networking is critical for everyone, but perhaps even more important for you at this time. It’s what careering is about.