Instead of Finding a New Job, Here’s How to Get Your Skills Used and Ideas Heard

When your skills aren’t being utilized, your interests have changed, or even your lifestyle has different demands, it can be easy to start scrolling LinkedIn or Indeed.

The job you were hired for is no longer a match.

Before jumping ship and changing jobs, I suggest having a conversation with your manager.  In fact, I encourage my clients to talk to their managers as their skills, interests, and lifestyle is changing rather than wait until it already has.

If you find yourself wanting to do something different, take on a new project, or apply something you’re learning in grad school, talk to your manager about how you can apply it in the role you already have.

It’s possible that you can negotiate your responsibilities without changing jobs or companies.

When I was in grad school for Organizational Psychology, I pitched my manager, the head of Human Resources, and the Senior Leadership team to create and implement a management program that would improve employee engagement.

This wasn’t part of my role at the time, but it was a skill I was developing, it was solving a problem my company was facing, and setting me up to prove the value of me applying this skill long-term. Win-win-win.

I could have decided that this wasn’t part of my role and started looking for roles in organizational psychology but by getting buy-in from my management in real-time, I was able to negotiate my responsibilities and earn a promotion with a job description I wrote myself.

This didn’t just work for me. My clients have used this approach with success as well. Whether it’s tasks you are over-qualified to do, new skills you have, or wanting to stretch into a new area, if you make the business case, your management may surprise you by allowing for the change in your current role.

How do you get started? 

Grab your job description and add all of the things you do in your day-to-day work. Then make a list of all of the tasks you want to do that you are not doing.  Next, mark the tasks you are doing that you don’t want to do. 

For all of the things you don’t think are a fit, brainstorm who could do these tasks for you, or better yet, how they could be automated. Are there efficiencies that could reduce or eliminate these tasks? 

Who would love to learn how to do some of the tasks you don’t want to do anymore as part of their own development plan?

Develop a solution for how those tasks you don’t want to do either don’t need to be done or could be done another way.

For all of the things you want to do, establish why it is a benefit to the company for you to do them.

Then pitch your boss. Share with them as part of your development conversation what you came up with. Ask them their thoughts and if there are any changes you could make in the near term. Note, you may not get all of the changes right away. It may take some time to prove that these changes work and are beneficial.

I suggest conducting a role audit at least twice a year and to time it with your mid and end of year development conversations.

Be proactive in your development. Don’t wait until you’ve outgrown your role to do something about it. By then, you’re going to be miserable and itching to leave. When you proactively manage your development and keep your manager by your side, you will have a lot more opportunity and be happier in the process.

If you want to hear more about how to conduct a role audit, listen to Navigating Your Career, episode 34: How to Change What You Do Without Changing Your Title.

If you want to know once and for all if you are in the right career, take my free quiz. In less than 3 minutes you’ll know if you should start looking for another job or just make some improvements where you are. Access the quiz at www.melissamlawrence.com.

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Melissa Lawrence is a Career Coach and host of the "Navigating Your Career" podcast. In her practice she helps people in STEM careers figure out their next career move and overcome workplace challenges that have them feeling stuck. Learn more at www.melissamlawrence.com.