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Management clinic

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For a while I’ve felt that my career as a community liaison officer is stagnating. I’m in my late 30s and I wonder if I should continue looking for promotion or even think about retraining. Do you have any advice?

It’s impossible to give you any detailed advice without knowing a great deal more about you, but there are some general themes that you might consider, says Jenny Rogers, associate at Management Futures.

First, let’s look at what is actually stagnating. Is it your interest in the job you are doing, or is it your interest in the field you are in? Feeling you’ve ‘seen it all before’, often accompanied by doubts about if your work is worthwhile, is a sign of disenchantment with the field you are in. This is usually because the fine-sounding promises of the original job spec turn out to be impossible to achieve, given the reality of the context in which it has to be attained.

In these circumstances it can make sense to change career, depending on your financial and domestic commitments. You are still young enough to do this.

The other possibility is to look for a more senior role in the same field. You talk about continuing to look for promotion, which implies that you have been turned down. If so, you need to look at the reasons for rejection.

The most serious reasons are a lack of relevant experience and/or a poor fit with the competency profile. When this is the case you may not get as far as the short list, a clear sign that you are not a credible candidate and are pointing yourself in the wrong direction. Less serious is lacking presence and credibility at the interview.

An experienced career coach could help you here by looking closely at what your marketable skills are. In the absence of this, your boss and colleagues could be a good substitute. Ask them what they see as your strengths and weaknesses and what their advice would be about your next move. Don’t let this feedback define you, but knowing how others see us is all part of making important decisions.

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