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Are You In a Dead End Job?

Written by Matt Jabs - 13 Comments

How can you tell if you’re working in a dead end job? Wikipedia defines a dead end job as:

“a job in which there is little or no chance of progressing and succeeding into a higher paid position. Such work is usually unskilled and the phrase usually applies to those working as shelf stackers, cleaners, or other menial jobs where the pay is low, and the hours are long.”

What do you think? I think that they touched on part of it, but I also think there’s more to it than that. Let’s talk about the different ways to tell whether or not you are in a dead end job.

Signs you may be in a dead end job

No passion for the work

Are You In a Dead End Job?Having trouble feeling any passion for your work? Have you wondered whether or not such a passion even exists? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you may be working in a dead end job. If you need help figuring it out I highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Crush It!

If you are unhappy, dissatisfied, or restless in your current position, it may be time to re-evaluate what you do and where you do it. Personally, I’m at a crossroads in life where I may continue in full-time IT work, or I might move into full-time writing. How will I decide? By experiencing both and seeing which path best suits my gifts and goals.

If you are not passionate about your work… You might be in a dead end job.

No passion for the company

Is your company doing something you can really get behind? In a perfect world, I suppose we would all delay employment until we could find that one blessed company that would help us save the world. Unfortunately, debt, bills, and other monetary obligations often drive us to take a job whether or not we’re passionate about it.

While our ability to choose our employer may have to wait until we are either in high demand or completely debt free, we should still make every effort to work for a company that has similar passions to our own.

If you are not passionate about your company… You might be in a dead end job.

Goals are not aligned

Do your career goals align with the goals of your company? Do you know what your goals are? Are you aware of the goals you company has set? It is very important to ask your employer to communicate and clarify the goals of the company. When you do this, you paint a clear picture of whether or not it is in your best interest to continue in your current position with that company.

If your goals do not align with the company goals… You might be in a dead end job.

No room for advancement

In my current job, I am an IT Manager. The only position I could ascend to would be president of my company. Since I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I have little to no room for advancement. Do you?

When you’re in a position with no room for promotion, you’re boxing yourself into a career corner. Unless you are content with living and working within that specific box, you should probably consider expanding your horizons rather boxing yourself into job dissatisfaction.

If you have no room for title promotion… You might be in a dead end job.

Little to no boost in responsibility

Are you ever asked to take on higher levels of responsibility? It’s not uncommon to be offered more responsibility without being offered a new title or promotion. If you’ve worked at the same company, in the same position, with the same responsibilities year after year after year… I encourage you to reevaluate your employment.

Are you working hard enough? If so then why have you not been asked to take on more work or more responsibility? When an employer trusts your work, they tend to move you into higher and higher levels of responsibility, as long as those levels exist within the company.

If you have little to no chance for boosts in responsibility… You might be in a dead end job.

Little to no salary increases.

I suppose a lack of salary increases is the attribute most commonly associated with dead end jobs. If you have worked the same job for several years without a significant raise or bonus, you may want to reconsider the position.

You should take into consideration whether or not your lack of progress has been because due to poor economic conditions, but don’t make this the only variable. A solid gauge is company profitability. If your company has been profitable for in recent years but you haven’t benefited, there may be a problem.

If you have little to no chance at salary increases… You might be in a dead end job.

Make sure you work hard

If you see your current position as a dead end job please be certain the problem does not lie in your own poor job performance. The last thing I want to do is motivate lazy people to rag on their employer because of their own laziness.

That said… If you do bust your tail for your employer but still fall into several or many of the categories listed above, it may be time to reconsider your position, your company, and maybe even your career.

Published on April 1st, 2010
Modified on October 4th, 2011 - 13 Comments
Filed under: Working

About the author: is a thirty-something IT manager and blogger who wants to help himself and others get out of debt. He writes about personal finance and debt-free living at Debt Free Adventure.

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13 Responses to “Are You In a Dead End Job?”

  1. 1
    ctreit Says:

    When you are in a dead end job and you really don’t like that job, it may be a good idea to kick yourself in the butt, initiate a change, and quit the job. When you quit you create a crisis and an opportunity at the same time! But this is a very risky move and it depends on a lot of things whether it makes sense or not.

  2. 2
    Ron Says:

    Another sign: You have lost respect for your boss.

  3. 3
    Z Says:

    Bit of a conflict from the first and last ones.

    Its tough, if not nearly impossible, to work hard if you have no passion for the job.

    That’s where I’m at right now. It sucks. I work, and I get work done, but I’m not working hard.

  4. 4
    Squirrelers Says:

    Your career is the engine that drives your personal finances – at least for most people. Savings are great, but it takes earning power to have the chance to save and invest in the first place.

    If you are in a dead end job, you are limiting your options with which you can grow your savings. In this case, with little or no income growth, you will have to spend even less to save more. You can keep refining ways to spend less, which is fine…but will only take you so far. Additionally, your “dead end” job may be pulled out from under you in many cases – layoffs do happen. Best to actively manage your career, especially if currently in a dead end job. If not, someone else will manage it for you, and is in turn managing your personal finances!

    If in a dead end job, acknoledge it, accept it, and get moving on the path to finding more meaningful work. Overcoming inertia and being active in managing your career is very important.

  5. 5
    Make Today Payday Says:

    I use to be in a dead end job and it left me feeling empty inside. I have been lucky enough to find a great job and give good feelings to all of those who are looking for their golden ring!

  6. 6
    Doctor Stock Says:

    I just got some mail from my ex-employer… it felt like those items you mention above. It is important, if possible, to find something you enjoy. Thanks!

  7. 7
    Brian Says:

    Your job can default into a dead end job by the attitudes of your supervisors. In my case, my manager hates his job and has no passion for it. So for me to move up, it would take a leap frog of him. Unfortunately, that’s not a usual occurrence at this particular company, so people tend to get stuck.

  8. 8
    Terry Says:

    Sure, I’m in a dead-end job but I don’t see any better options available. (NOT working is not a better option.)

  9. 9
    Smarter Spend Says:

    I believe the first sign that you’re in a dead end job is that you don’t see yourself reaching your goals with that job and waking up feeling you can do better.

    Great post, once again!

  10. 10
    Tammie Says:

    It took DECADES of working low wage, dead end jobs before I finally landed the job of my dreams. But, it also took a lot of hard work to get where I am at this very moment. No Fairy Godmother waved a magic wand or anything to that extent…I just decided, one day, that I had HAD it with being treated like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

    Unfortunately, I grew up in a large family – and my parents simply could not afford to send five of us off to college. So, nobody went. We graduated from high school and went straight to work. For my brothers, that meant fast food cooks, the military, etc. – for me it meant clerk typists and phone reception jobs – and I worked for some very low class bosses. Some of them spouted off filthy remarks – cheated on their wives and let me know they’d like to “play” with me and I had no respect for them, at all.

    After over a decade of this hell, I became a stay at home for a few years. Then came the empty nest…and I decided it was time to make some changes in my life.

    I enrolled in college in my mid 40’s, studied the subject I’m most passionate about (history) and earned a bachelors and masters, graduating Summa Cum Laude and working my behind off while I attended college. Nobody handed me anything…I had to apply for school loans and used up my life savings. But, I achieved what I set out to accomplish.

    I’m in my 50’s now and having the time of my life working in the field of history in the academia world. My boss – a history professor – is not only a very bright and gifted man, but he’s also a GOOD man, of sound character, and I have the utmost respect for him. I spend my time conducting research, writing books, archiving historic materials – i.e. doing the kind of work I always wanted to do. I’m no millionaire but the job pays fairly well, nearly $50,000 per year, plus excellent benefits. But, it’s the fact that I get up, each morning, looking FORWARD to going to work! For decades I hated my job – I hated my very existence. I toiled away at jobs I detested, putting in long hours, working holidays and weekends, and was treated like a moron by the upper management.

    And this story holds true for my siblings, as well. All of them eventually went to college, on their own, paying for it out of pocket, and now one of them is a high paid chemical engineer, another a federal official and the list goes on. My parents didn’t have any money to give us, but they provided us with something even more valuable…a work ethic. They taught us that to have anything worthwhile one must work for it. For those who enjoy fabulous riches, but who never did anything to earn it (gold diggers, for instance) they have nothing BUT money. They are low class, regardless of how much money they have. This is why nobody respects people such as Paris Hilton. She never DID anything to earn what she has. She simply crawled out of the right uterus on her day of birth, and now she’s “entitled” to all of the world’s riches for doing absolutely nothing. She has no compassion for those who suffer in poverty because she does not relate to them, period.

    It’s a tough sell…it’s not easy. Many days, while working as a museum tour guide AND as an aid in a nursing home, while attending college I wondered how I could go on another day. I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. I thought I’d kill over from the workload. And after a long day of work, it was time to head off to classes. Then came homework and papers that needed to be written, tests to study for…it seemed there was no end to it.

    Looking back, in life’s rear-view mirror, I’m thankful I stayed the course. I’m living my reward now.

    Good luck to all of you out there. Take my advice – follow your dreams! Don’t let anybody convince you that you’re worthless, because you’re not. There are billionaires in this world who are literally worthless and do nothing but center around themselves. YOU are the backbone of America! Someday you can tell your worthless supervisors where to stick their low wage jobs! Then you can go live the life you dreamed of.

  11. 11
    Heather Says:

    Great post and some great comments. It’s great to know that others have been through this passionless existence and come out on the other side. I’m actively looking for something better, but it’s slow going some days.

  12. 12
    Kevi Naleo Mor Says:

    The job I have is a dream come true. Good salary. Just next to my house. I am a very hard working person and it took me a lot of hard work to reach where I am today.They use to “use to” call me a workaholic. Unfortunately things are not the same lately. Either I am not in the right job or company. I really need help. I am clueless and don’t know where its taking me. I am alone in the department and they ( company expect me to form a successful department) well to do that we need to get business. I am not able to get business and its worrying me. Its been 3 months since I joined and nothing literally nothing is happening. PLEASE HELP. Boss is good, co-workers are good. is it just me? Suggestion ASAP please

  13. 13
    clint guidry Says:

    its all me living it now very good tried making them look good with my hard work an making them money with my under pay i am 55 years old want to work smart not hard any more the only thing i got for my hard work was more hard with the dead in jobs then lay off when the jobs end they stay an i have to find a new job because i work so hard i am a threat to there job an on time an never miss work time to with my age to work smart not hard if someone would give me a break i would work to make them very glad they did because i could change the world with my new efficient reliable energy to who ever gives me a break thank you for comments its some how the life i am living an need to change with a give me a chance from the dead in jobs sign clint no more fool thanks to your comments guidry

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