If you’re feeling unfulfilled at your job and are in need of a change, one answer is to start looking for roles elsewhere. The problem is, it’s not easy to find another job – and there’s no guarantee you’ll feel more satisfied with your career if you move to a different organisation.
Another option may be to stay put in your current job – or in your organisation – but take on new tasks, projects or responsibilities. The change might well give you the boost you’re looking for, without having to get used to new colleagues, managers and work cultures.
Changing your role without quitting your job can be a really good way to advance your career, especially if it’s a good company and a working environment that you would prefer not to leave, says Valerie O'Hanlon, a career expert at Clarence Consulting.
Put together a plan
Before you ask your boss to switch up your role, it’s important to have a plan.
“There's a few questions that you should ask yourself first,” says O’Hanlon.
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“What's your aim? Is it a new job doing something completely different, or a similar role with more responsibility? Or is it moving from being a subject expert to managing a team?”
Consider your skills
Think about what skills or competencies you have or want to develop – and where there may be gaps. “Then when you have a plan, talk to your manager, ask them to look for opportunities within your current team or with other teams,” advises O’Hanlon.
“Then, look at what you can do yourself and utilise your internal network. Let it be known that you are open to taking on other tasks and responsibilities. Be curious about what goes on in other departments and talk to people. Find out the areas where you could assist or add value.”
Add to your existing role
Joanna Gaudoin, managing director at the careers organisation Inside Out Image and author of Getting On: Making work work, advises looking at what you could be doing within your existing role.
“Are there new responsibilities you can step into? Do you have ideas for how things could be improved or done differently?” she asks.
“Consider going for promotion, is there an obvious step up? Sometimes if there isn’t there is an option for a new role to be created.”
Consider a promotion
If there is a clear role you could be promoted into, get your manager’s view on whether you are ready for this, says Gaudoin.
“If they don’t think so, make sure you have clarity on what you need to do to get promoted,” she says. “Ask for examples of times when you could have done something differently and what that looks like specifically.”
Speak to your manager
Sometimes, there are things you can start doing where no discussion is needed, as long as you aren’t making fundamental changes, Gaudoin says.
“However, the best thing to do is to talk to your manager about your situation and work on the challenge together. Make sure you go into the discussion balancing what you want but also what is good for the company, as your manager needs to consider both,” says Gaudoin.
“Not all managers are open and supportive but many will be happy to discuss how you can step up to more and different tasks. That might start with you representing the department at a meeting rather than your manager going or working on something a bit different.”
Weigh up the pros and cons
It’s also important to consider any downsides to changing your role. For example, taking on more responsibilities may lead to an unrealistic workload. If you’re focusing on changing your role, it’s possible that your current work may be negatively affected too.
However, there are many positives to switching roles. You may get to develop new skills, expand your network, put yourself in line for promotion and feel more satisfied in your career.
“If you’ve had the thought about change for a while, then you should definitely explore what is next,” says Gaudoin.
“We all need change and new challenges to keep us motivated and engaged. The best companies want their employees to be motivated and fulfilling their potential as it benefits them too.”