Last Updated Sep 21, 2011 1:23 PM EDT
Listen: You should make the most of every job in your career. Moreover, there's no denying it's easier to get a job while you're employed. Nevertheless, you may have slipped into a rut at work; if so, it's time to change your situation there or start looking for a new opportunity while you're still pulling a paycheck.
Monster lists some excellent diagnostics in an article titled, "11 Warning Signs Your Career Has Stalled":
1. Your role and responsibilities haven't changed in years.
2. You've bounced from employer to employer without much change in job title or salary.
3. You can't remember the last time you learned something new about your industry or field.
4. People hired after you have been promoted faster.
5. You're not invited to key discussions or meetings like you used to attend.
6. Your job duties have decreased.
7. Your performance reviews contain terms like "consistently meets expectations" or "adequate performance."
8. No one at work or your professional network requests your advice.
9. You dread going to work.
10. Your manager and coworkers stop communicating with you -- your phone rings less and you get fewer emails.
11. You spend a lot of time complaining about work, or and when you tell stories about work, you are the story's "victim," not its hero.
Monster Senior Editor Charles Purdy offers some fine advice about how to take control of the situation in your current workplace: Address the issue directly with your boss, ask direct questions about how you can contribute more, take initiative in contributing value, and adjust your own attitude instead of simply complaining about external forces.
I'd venture further in urging that you undertake an honest self-assessment of where you want to go next. Doing your best to make yourself a more valuable asset to your current employer also means getting savvier about your field and the competitive landscape -- and that's a golden opportunity to determine whether you can do better elsewhere.
When you're in a career rut, it's hard to look at the horizon for new opportunities. Any boost you gain from re-evaluating your current situation is also a chance to look beyond it and decide whether it's time to head for higher ground.