Reasons for more early career stagnation
Vaibhav Sisinty, Founder & CEO, GrowthSchool, defines early career stagnation as an “unsettling phase in one’s professional journey where, despite the initial excitement and momentum of a new job, there seems to be little to no progression in terms of skills, responsibilities or even pay. Think of it as being stuck in professional quicksand; you’re moving, but not really getting anywhere.”According to him, there are several reasons why this phenomenon has become highly prevalent in recent times. One is the rapid pace of technological advancements. Although this promises innovation, it also necessitates continuous upskilling, failing which one can quickly fall behind. Another reason he states is that modern workspaces are highly competitive. This implies that “standing out and making significant progress early on can be challenging”.
On the other hand, Raghupathi C N, Director of MILES, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, describes early-stage career stagnation as “no upward change in role and responsibilities for 3 years or 5 years or 8 years and no opportunity for growth in skills”.
While talking about the underlying causes of career stagnation, he takes us back in time to draw a comparison for better understanding. “In the ’60s and ’70s, the gap between promotions was large and there were very few layers. Somewhere after the IT boom’s quick promotions, rapid salary increases became the norm. Currently, organisations are becoming flatter. Technologies are taking away many of the supervisory roles and hence promotions are becoming slower,” says Raghupathi.
Stagnation signs to keep your eyes peeled for
A feeling of monotony and lack of challenge in daily tasks, minimal opportunities to learn or take on new responsibilities, and a stagnant salary despite increasing living costs are some of the common signs that you must take note of, says Sisinty. He advises individuals to “continuously assess and recalibrate their career trajectory” to diminish the chances of stagnation from disrupting their professional life in any manner.
Sectors or roles with high early-career stagnation rates
With the emergence of AI and widespread adoption of automation and other tech improvements, Sisinty says numerous roles have become susceptible to certain levels of stagnation. Customer service, data entry and administrative roles have started to become monotonous, displaying a limited scope of progression. In addition, he says that the roles in the sales department can appear demanding and stressful, especially in the early years, which over time can lead to a lack of motivation and burnout.
“Being in the thick of things as a founder, my take is simple: adaptability is the key. In any profession, the need of the hour is to stay agile, be willing to pivot and never lose the enthusiasm for learning,” Sisinty says.
Raghupathi’s take on this is that retail, software (some areas), legal and teaching are some of the sectors that are currently registering high early-career attrition rates.
Techniques to delay and cope with career stagnation
Sisinty uses the ever-so-classic story of the hare and tortoise to explain the importance of remaining consistent in whatever you do. Instead of focusing on your speed, maintain unwavering consistency to be able to climb the ladder of success.
Continuously upskilling yourself, adopting a mindset of growth, seeking feedback and guidance from peers and mentors, networking and embracing learning as a lifelong process are a few factors that can be absolute game changers in beating early career stagnation, according to him.
Lastly, he emphasises maintaining a curious spirit. “Keep asking questions, challenging norms and pushing boundaries. In an age of rapid advancements, stagnation is often a mindset, not a circumstance,” says Sisinty.
While recommending a couple of ways to avert stagnation, Raghupathi says: “The easiest way to stem early career stagnation would be to change your field of work.” He also adds that developing new skills and pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work may help overcome stagnation as taking these measures can keep the mind occupied and create positivity.