How to Get Your Career Back on Track After a Detour

A majority of American workers are not in a position that’s in line with their overall career goals, a recent poll by found. Only 6 percent of respondents said their current position was “totally on course” with their career vision while 56 percent said it was “not on course at all.”

If your job doesn’t seem to be leading you in the direction you want, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to put yourself back on track, even when your career goals change. Some people are lucky and know exactly where they’d like to be professionally later in life; but many of us amend our goals as we learn about our industries and ourselves. Perhaps at one time your job was leading you toward the career you wanted, but along the way you changed your mind and haven’t yet changed your job.

The poll asked the question, “How well does your current job meet your long-term course for your career vision?” The answers showed that most respondents believe their current jobs are something of a detour – 89 percent ranked their current positions between “somewhat on course” and “not on course at all.” Only 11 percent said their jobs were “very much” or “totally on course” with their career vision.

Taking a slight detour from your chosen career path shouldn’t necessarily prevent you from fulfilling your career goals – what’s important is that you treat your somewhat “off course” position as a detour and proactively use it as an opportunity to expand your area of expertise. If your job is at least somewhat on track toward your ultimate career goal, there may be projects and positions available within your company that can move you along.

Take initiative by reaching out to supervisors and co-workers and letting them know you can tackle new projects and learn new skills. It might be possible to shape your current position into something more in line with your vision. Skills attained outside the commonly accepted boundaries of your field can also enhance your resume and distinguish you from the competition.

Grow from your “off course” position, but don’t let it sidetrack you from realizing your career vision: keep your resume updated, and keep an eye out for new jobs that would return you to your ideal career path. Sometimes it may take a big leap and a daunting change to get into a job that aligns with your career aspirations. Don’t let fear of change stop you from trying something new that could fulfill your goals. A shift in a new direction could lead you to the job that is “totally on course” toward the career you want.

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